Early investigation at the time of a loss may avoid costly litigation. A careful, prompt and thorough investigation that preserves important evidence greatly increases the likelihood of success in a later lawsuit. In Washington, the statute of limitations on general negligence claims is three years. In some contract and construction matters the statute of limitations can stretch to six years.
Many lawsuits are filed years after the loss. During these years witnesses disappear, memories fade and important records and physical evidence is lost. A careful investigation that preserves evidence should be undertaken whenever there is a possibility of a lawsuit.
It is not easy to conduct an effective investigation. The preservation of the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine are key considerations. Forsberg & Umlauf attorneys understand the proof necessary to prevail in a later lawsuit. We identify key records and evidence relevant to a potential suit. It is also important to properly safeguard the information obtained during the investigation. This may involve chain of custody issues and may require formal declarations from witnesses.
Accident Investigation Case Studies
In February 2017, our client received notice of a $10 million subrogation claim. The claim arose after several warehouses, which our client had built for a tobacco manufacturer, collapsed during a snow storm. Attorneys Grant Lingg and Scott Samuelson headed up an investigation, which revealed that the manufacturer had caused the collapse by attaching heavy equipment to the warehouses’ structural beams. Upon receiving the investigation findings, the insurer abandoned the claim against our client.