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Posts Tagged ‘Backgrounds’

The Investigator/Attorney Relationship

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Why should an attorney use an investigator when they have a paralegal in the office?

It’s no secret that attorneys utilize paralegals to handle many investigative related tasks. Instead of viewing it as an “either/or” situation, look at the possibilities of utilizing both investigators and paralegals and see how additional resources can help save time and return better results.

Attorney support services include: Witness locates, interviews, photographing locations, records retrieval, asset checks, backgrounds of various levels, social networking searches, cyber profiles and reports written to withstand scrutiny in court.

Can a paralegal do all of that? Yes. A paralegal’s duties reflect the attorney’s requirements and depending on the case, the requirements may be enormous.

An investigator’s skills complement and dovetail with a paralegal’s duties. While the paralegal is busy working directly with the attorney preparing the case to be presented, the investigator can be out pulling records, locating witnesses and scheduling interviews, conducting a background investigation and Social Media Investigation and creating a report compiled from the data. An investigator provides an additional resource with skills that may differ slightly or greatly from a paralegal, but the goal is still to provide the attorney with crucial documentation for their case.

Limit Your Liability Using Investigators

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Choose an investigator who is insured. An investigator with sufficient insurance will prevent liability from falling back on the client if an investigation goes wrong. Does your investigator carry commercial automobile, professional liability and errors and omissions?

Choose an investigator who is licensed. A licensed investigator has been shown to be qualified, vetted and demonstrated a minimum amount of experience to the state in which he or she is licensed. A licensed investigator eases the burden of due dilligence on the client. Clients can be assured that a licensed investigator’s testimony at a hearing will not be disqualified due to felonies or other questionable histories in their background.

Ask the investigator you use whether the information/documentation they provide will be able to withstand the scrutiny of opposing counsel. Is the information accurate, factual and unbiased? Was the information obtained in a legal manner? Information is of no benefit in a legal setting if it cannot withstand the scrutiny of a judge and cannot be entered into evidence for a case.

Do your investigators adhere to applicable laws during the process of an investigation? Do they know which laws apply to them? Does the investigator use “baiting” methods by contacting represented claimants, gather information that is clearly private and are they aware of the difference between surveillance and harassment/stalking? Investigators who do not take into consideration trespassing, reasonable expectation of privacy, FCRA compliance, etc will surely increase liability to their clients. For insurers, an improper investigation can even increase the risk of bad faith claims.

Ask your investigator if the equipment they use can withstand legal scrutiny. Was a GPS tracking device improperly/illegally used on your case? Will the video equipment be able to display date and time stamped video footage?

Limit your liability in the workplace by conducting background checks on potential and current employees. Do they have, domestic violence, drug or DUI charges, stalking/harassment issues or other questionable records in their backgrounds?

With current employees, conducting employee misconduct investigations can reveal drug/alcohol use on the job, theft of equipment/material items, time theft, disgruntled employee harassment and other issues in the workplace. These issues can lead to increased liability.

Make sure your investigator is aware that he/she is a representative of you, the client. Know your investigator and do not tolerate investigator misconduct with your cases. Your investigator should conduct themselves in a professional manner from beginning of the case to the end. Does the investigator reflect well on you in a legal setting? Believability and credibility in the eyes of a judge and jury are dramatically affected by an investigator who is professionally dressed and conducts themselves in a professional manner.