Preserving the Scene

One of the ways that Keis George maximizes recovery potential is through our Early Involvement Strategy. Early Involvement allows us to be on the scene of a large loss as soon as possible in order to make immediate arrangements to analyze a loss for litigation potential. A key component of Early Involvement involves scene preservation.

Scene preservation

Preserving the scene is important because it preserves evidence, reduces the spread of harmful or misinformation, and eliminates a defense of spoliation or tampering by adverse parties. Failure to properly secure a scene can cause significant hurdles when trying to recover on a loss. In fact, some scenarios can be a complete bar to recovery.

Capture relevant photographs

The absolute first and most important step to take once a loss has been reported is to take pictures. Lots of pictures. At every angle. Everyone is aware of the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”, but a picture can also be the difference between thousands of dollars on a recovery. Taking photographs preserves the scene exactly as it was immediately after a loss. Scene contamination is a possibility, especially prior to the initial investigation. This is why photographs are so important. Photographs not only are proof of what the scene looked like right after a loss, but they can provide the only unbiased and untampered look at the loss the parties may have. There is also a possibility that evidence must be removed immediately to protect it from environmental conditions. In this instance, photographing the evidence prior to removal is necessary because it will be the only look at how the evidence was on the scene prior to removal.

Pictures also carry emotional weight and help jurors to not only understand what happened but also see the devastation that was caused to someone’s home or business. Let’s use a fire scene as an example. A space heater malfunctions, catches fire, and causes extensive damage to a home. The space heater was located in a child’s bedroom. Luckily, everyone got out okay and no one was hurt, but much of the child’s room was destroyed. Photographs of a charred teddy bear, melted children’s shoes and a soot-stained bed can be a very real reminder things could have gone much worse.

Take witness statements

Preserving the scene also involves taking witness statements. A loss will obviously be most fresh in someone’s mind after a loss. Litigation is a long, complex process that can take many years to reach a resolution. Often times, depositions can take place up to three years after a loss. Every day that passes following a loss brings with it the increased chance of forgetting an important fact. To get the best idea what happened, witness statements need to be taken immediately after a loss when a witness is not only the most eager to discuss an incident but when they will have the best memory of it. In the future, these statements can then be used when discussing the loss with that witness to refresh their memory or clarify a contradictory statement.

Determine the cause of the large loss

Finally, once pictures and statements are taken the scene must be secured. Potentially adverse and responsible parties will soon be put on notice and there will be a scene examination to determine the actual cause of the loss. Experts will want to have boots on the ground and their eyes on the actual evidence to properly examine the scene and determine fault. Displaying caution tape and warning signs on the site of the loss is an effective way to notify the public the scene is off limits. The insured must also be notified they are not to enter the scene without accompaniment to prevent contamination. Also, this should be done to restrict adverse parties from investigating the scene without consent. Despite these measures, it is a good rule of thumb to photograph certain entryways or evidence with the restrictive tape or warning signs. In doing so, you ensure evidence was not moved by a nosy neighbor or teenage ruffians. Always remember, pictures are an effective way to preserve a scene.

Large loss property subrogation

Scene preservation is just one part of our Early Involvement Strategy and one of the most important factors in building a good case. Capturing relevant photographs throughout the investigation process along with taking witness statements and properly securing the scene will put you in the best position to preserve evidence and protect your recovery.  Contact one of our subrogation attorneys to learn more about Early Involvement or discuss a large loss.