Your clients come to you with their auto accident cases in which they expect you to not only fight for them and win, but to also maximize their compensation for their injuries, costs, pain and suffering. When good attorneys have the facts on their side, they’ll win more often than not, but actual compensation ultimately received by their clients may be limited by the ability of the other side to pay. Finding the most well-funded responsible parties — what some attorneys call “Deep Pockets” — can usually multiply a clients’ compensation by many times. So, when we talk with attorneys about their cases, we ask them “Where are the deep pockets in your auto accident case?” They don’t always know, and so they ask us to investigate the accident to help them find out.
Insurance Companies as Deep Pockets
The first place to look for deep pockets in your auto accident case is from all the related insurance policies. Whether it’s an auto insurance policy, homeowner’s policy, business general liability policy, umbrella policy or some kind of specialized insurance.
While we are experts at insurance policy limit investigations, and often reveal policy terms that allow attorneys to get their clients the care they need and to make their clients whole, we go beyond the insurance companies when looking for deep pockets from which their clients can collect.
Where are the Deep Pockets in Your Auto Accident Case?
The deep pockets in your auto accident case can change based on the conditions of your case. Four of the most common potential deep pockets can be found when the accident occurs due to:
- Poorly maintained or mismanaged intersection signage
- Malfunctioning traffic signals
- Road hazards
- Poor signage or road conditions
Poorly Maintained or Mismanaged Intersection Signage
Many auto or other vehicle accidents occur at intersections, and the cause of the accident can sometimes be attributable to poorly maintained or mismanaged intersections.
We had a case where an attorney’s client was t-boned at an intersection in a remote area. The attorney hired us to do an accident scene investigation, not knowing what we would find. Our investigation revealed that the stop sign for the other vehicle had been previously damaged and not repaired or maintained by the city. The tilt of the damaged stop sign made it less visible to the other driver, resulting in the other driver not stopping. The attorney successfully sued the city and won his case, resulting in a huge settlement for his client.
Poorly maintained or mismanaged intersections can also include stop signs not properly placed or not visible due to other street signage or overgrown city-owned trees that block the sign. Our investigations can reveal the true conditions at the time of the accident, giving you the facts you need to go after the deep pockets.
Malfunctioning Traffic Signals
The city, county or state is also responsible for the timing of tri-light (Red/Yellow/Green) traffic signals, and thousands of accidents occur every year all over the country as a result of improper timing or malfunctioning signals.
How could a traffic signal be the cause of a traffic accident? Traffic signals in larger cities are often computer controlled and coordinated, and computers can malfunction. In smaller cities or municipalities, mechanical lights with fixed timers can also malfunction…and sometimes light bulbs just burn out. These malfunctions can cause accidents when:
- Yellow light intervals are too short, resulting in vehicles running red lights
- No pause between a new red in one direction and a new green in another
- Yellow light in one direction, green light in another
- Green light showing in multiple directions
- No light on a signal, resulting a variety of accidents
All of these conditions can be investigated. If found to be true, very deep pockets could be added as defendants to your car accident case.
Accidents Due to Road Hazards
Street maintenance departments — from small towns to state agencies and the federal government– have a history of very slow response to pothole complaints and other road hazards. The good news is that complaints of potholes and road hazards are part of the public record and can be investigated. We’ve had cases where a vehicle swerves to avoid a pothole, resulting in an accident. When the city, county or state knows about a pothole but doesn’t fix it, and that pothole is the cause of an accident, the department could be held responsible.
We’ve had cases where construction is being done which causes road obstructions, which then result in vehicle accidents. Anyone blocking the roadway must have a permit for the obstruction, and then must also give ample warning to the drivers based on the type of obstruction, the speed limit of the roadway, the number of lanes, and a variety of other factors.
The obstruction could be due to road construction or repair for road maintenance, but could also be due to construction by a private party, such as for building construction or remodeling. We had a case where an attorney’s client drove around a corner at or under the posted speed, only to come upon construction materials placed on the roadway for a new building. The obstruction was not visible in time for the driver to stop, causing the driver to try to avoid the construction by partially entering the opposite lane and colliding with an oncoming vehicle. We were able to provide sufficient proof of these conditions to the attorney, who then won the case and recovered a large settlement for her client from the construction company’s insurance company’s high policy limits.
Accidents Due to Poor Signage for Road Conditions
The US Department of Transportation has guidelines which strictly mandate highway signage, as do states, counties and municipalities. Accidents can be caused by poorly maintained or missing signage for any of the following:
- Lane Ends
- Road Ends/Dead End
- One Way Road
- Two Way Road
- Hairpin Turn
- Low Clearance
- Bicycle/Pedestrian Crossing
- Trial Crossing
- Speed Limit
- Speed Hump
…and many more. The government entity responsible for the roadway can be held responsible and liable for accidents that result from the poor signage.
Attorneys have asked us to investigate accidents without being aware of these conditions ahead of time. In many of those cases, we’ve successfully discovered that the traffic accident was caused by these types of issues, allowing the attorney to pursue a new case, or increase the request of compensation for damages incurred on an existing case.
One of the tools we have at our disposal in California is SWITRS, the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, a database of collision scene data that is maintained by the CHP. Data from SWITRS showing a pattern of similar accidents at a certain location, day of the week or time of day can help bolster our other accident investigation data.
Find The Deep Pockets in Your Auto Accident Case
The victims in an auto accident can be on either side of the case because both drivers may be the victim of some sort of negligence by a third party. When that third party is a government entity or some other company, they can be a deep pocket in your auto accident case. The problem is that a driver often does not notice facts that can be significant to their case, often leaving their attorneys without the complete information they need to fight and win the case.
Glucroft Investigations are specialists in accident investigations, including accident scene investigations, and have investigated over 14,000 accidents, including auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, work-place accidents and more. We’re experts in finding the deep pockets in your auto accident case in all these types of cases and more, which are often not obvious to clients, attorneys are witnesses. Call us today at 866-411-8646 to talk about your case, or contact us online here. At Glucroft Investigations, We Uncover The Hidden.
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to offer legal or insurance advice. For advice concerning your particular situation, please contact your appropriate legal or insurance professional.