WITNESS STATEMENTS

 

At Tristar Investigation we have been serving the needs of law firms and attorneys for 30 years. We know every aspect of obtaining the highest quality statements from witnesses. Whether the need for a witness statement is for a civil or criminal case, we have the experience and expertise to get the best possible results.

There are many ways to approach witness statements in personal injury cases, whether it is an auto accident case, slip and fall case, dog bite case, bicycle accident case, wrongful death case or any other type of civil litigation we have the skills to help you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I need to obtain a statement from an auto accident witness
If you need to get a witness statement in an auto accident or other personal injury case using a private investigator is your best source. Legal investigators have the experience necessary to obtain quality statements that will hold up in court should the need arise. There are few options when it comes to witness statements.

For the average auto accident case a recorded telephonic witness statement will suffice. In this case the investigator calls the witness and confirms they saw the accident and gets their permission to record an interview. It is essential to confirm on tape that they are giving their permission to be recorded. Afterwards the statement is transcribed and forwarded to the attorney.

The caveat to recorded statements is that “what you hear is what you get.” This means if the witness is unfavorable to your theory of liability you will have an unhelpful witness statement that can be discoverable in the future. For smaller cases this may not matter since they rarely go to court. In addition the unfavorable statement may prompt you to decide the case is not worth pursuing.

I need to get a statement from the defendant
If you need a statement from a defendant in a personal injury case, hiring a private investigator as soon as possible is essential. This is because the investigator can’t speak to the defendant if they are represented by legal counsel. So in most cases this needs to be accomplished in the first week or so after the accident before opposing legal counsel is retained.

Another challenge to getting a defendant statement is that most of the time the defendant’s insurance company will advise them not to give any statements. So again time is of the essence to get the job done. The best technique for these statements is the recorded telephonic witness statement.

In most cases the defendant will present a set of facts in which they are claiming they are not at fault. In this case the job of the investigator is to nail down the facts as precisely as possible so that there is no room for the defendant to change their story in the future after they are possibly coached by the opposing parties. The experienced investigator will ask repeated questions about time, speed and distance to lock down the defendant’s testimony.

I need to canvass the scene to get witness statements
If you need to find witnesses to an accident the best place to start is to go to the scene where it happened and canvas for witnesses. The most efficient person to conduct such an investigation would be a private investigator. Experienced investigators are skilled at not being obtrusive and blending in with their surroundings. They know how to put people at ease.

It is important to conduct a witness investigation as soon as possible after the accident since memories fade and people often move. The best time to conduct a witness canvas is usually on the same day of the week and at the same time of day as when the accident occurred. The only caveat to this is that often people are away working during the day so early evening or weekends can also be an effective time to conduct the witness canvas.

The investigator should keep a log of all the places and times that they canvassed for witnesses. This will help if they need to follow up and re-canvas. A good investigator will present themselves as a disinterested party so as to not put people on the defensive if they are associated with the defendant in the case. If possible the investigator will take a statement from witness while in the field and if not practical they will get contact information and make arrangements for a statement in the future.

I need to find out if the witness is lying
If you need to find out if a witness is lying start by hiring an experienced private investigator to interview the witness. Good investigators are able to act as disinterested parties just trying to uncover the facts. This can put the witness at ease and make them more likely to cooperate.

In some cases a witness may be lying because they have some relationship with the opposing party. The thing to do in such cases is to take a recorded witness statement and nail down all the details. If the witness is lying the skilled investigator can eventually find the weak points in their testimony and have them elaborate on these details.

Rarely will the witness giving false testimony admit to their deceit. So what the investigator does in the recorded statement is get them to commit to their set of faulty assertions and hopefully there will be aspects of this testimony that will not square with the facts. The investigator keeps them talking and unbeknownst to them boxes them into a set of assertions that the skilled attorney can use in the future to impeach and discredit their testimony.

I need a declaration from a witness
If you have a legal case that requires a declaration from a witness a private investigator is a reliable way to accomplish the task. A declaration is a type of witness statement that is written and signed under penalty of perjury by the witness. The declaration is usually written by the investigator and then signed by the witness.

If the witness has not been previously interviewed and their testimony is unknown, then the declaration is usually prepared in writing by the investigator at the time of the in-person interview. A good investigator will always make at least one minor mistake per page of a written declaration, correct it and then have the witness initial each mistake when they sign the final declaration. This way the witness cannot claim in the future that they never read the declaration before signing it.

In some high stakes cases the lawyer may want to be the one that prepares the declaration. In these cases the investigator can interview the witness and ascertain the facts without preparing a formal statement. The investigator then submits the report of the meeting to the attorney who then prepares a typed declaration based on the report. Then the investigator visits the witness in person, has them read and confirm the declaration and sign it under penalty of perjury.

I need to interview a witness
Private investigators are well versed in interviewing witnesses. If you need to have a witness interviewed you first need to decide what you want accomplished. Do you want the investigator to only interview the witness or interview them and take a formal statement? Sometimes it is not as cut and dry as this.

There are times when an attorney will ask a private investigator to “interview the witness and if appropriate take a statement.” What this means is that the investigator meets with and interviews the witness about the facts of the case. If the witness is favorable to the lawyer’s case, they will prepare a witness statement on the spot and have the witness sign it under penalty of perjury.

However if the witness is not favorable to the attorney’s case then the investigator will not prepare a written statement. Instead they will simply note what the witness had to say and forward that information to the attorney in the form of a report.

This way if the witness is unfavorable the attorney does not end up with a formal witness statement that can be discoverable by opposing counsel in the future. Instead they only have a confidential report from the investigator that is covered by “work product” and “attorney/client” privileges and therefore it is not discoverable.

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Tristar in the news

Tristar Investigation has been featured in a dozens of publications, everything from print to TV and radio. Bellow you will find Burce Robertson interviewed and discussed on famous publications such as the History Channel, New York Times, CNN and a lot more.

News Coverage Highlights

Bruce Robertson is the founder of Tristar Investigation, a private detective agency in Los Angeles, CA. Tristar has a 28-year track record of delivering quality investigative results. Headquartered in West Los Angeles, Tristar has branch offices in San Francisco.

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Real Life Private Eye

In November of 1999 Bruce Robertson, founder of Tristar Investigation, was featured on CNN Worldwide show Showbiz Today with Gloria Hillard. The report was about an ABC television show called “Snoops”, which was a glitzy send-up of life at a detective

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