By Brent L. Handel Q.C.
The police are always the first on the scene to investigate a motor vehicle collision; however the police report produced by the R.C.M.P or the City of Lethbridge Police Department and the sketch of the accident scene sometimes leaves much to be desired.
The alternative in the old days would have been to attend the scene of the accident yourself or hire an accident reconstructionist, at great cost, to reconstruct the accident (it is only in fatality cases that the R.C.M.P hire their specialized analyst to reconstruct the accident).
However today there are tools available such as Google Earth, Google Maps and Bing Maps which are great resources. Google Earth is a program that you can download and install, while the other two are websites. These products provide street views so that you can see the view from the road while Google Earth and Google Maps have bird’s-eye views. The bird’s-eye views are more useful than aerial maps because they are taken from an angel giving a three dimensional view. Below is a picture of Google Maps street view car which hundreds of them have driven all over roads providing the Google Maps that you can use at your desktop.
For example you may have an accident at Ross Street and 48th Avenue in the City of Red Deer and the sketch of the accident scene from the police officers leaves much to be desired, however utilizing Google Earth you can pull up a street view and you discover that just before this intersection there is a blind curve due to an illegal sign from a business and finally you discover that the intersection itself is on a crest of a hill.
All of these details now give you a better informed perspective on the nature of the collision and why it happened.
All of this is extremely important because in Alberta, as a fault based auto insurance jurisdiction, a victim can only bring a claim for damages over and above the Section B no fault benefits if the victim can establish that another party is at fault. However fault is not an all or nothing proposition as fault can be shared between parties, so sometimes even a client who comes through the door who may appear to be at fault upon further investigation fault may in fact be properly shared between the parties 50/50, 60/40, 70/30 etcetera.
A personal injury lawyer utilizing these resources quickly at his/her desktop can make the difference between a successful claim and a claim which is declined by the injury lawyer and never pursued.