A Loss for a Trial Attorney

Several years ago, when I was practicing as a personal injury lawyer, I had a case that haunts me still today. A young family lost their father to a tragic car wreck. The future of their financial stability was tied up in finding the responsible parties for his death.

The accident happened in the middle of the day on a busy highway. Unfortunately, it appeared to be a single car accident, with no witnesses. The man had some how lost control and driven over the side of an embankment. He was not found for nearly a day. The only piece of evidence available was his cellular telephone.

This was after the advent of "smart" phones, but before there was an art of cell phone extraction. The phone was locked with a pass code, but was still on when the body was found. The family had numerous theories of what had happened, ranging from his being ran off the road to having dialed 911 for assistance before sub combing to his injuries.

The thing that could not be found was a a way to retrieve any of the information on the phone. There was no way to tell if he was making a call, texting, or otherwise using the device during or after the wreck. If we could pinpoint the time of the accident, we could develop a timeline from known variables about who was in the vicinity at the time of the crash and if he had in fact placed any calls for help.

This story does not have a happy ending. I filed suit for the family, opening up an avenue for discovery. The emergency dispatch had no records at all for the day of the death due to a complete system failure. The only way to prove he had made unanswered pleas for help was to access the phone information. Additionally, while we had access to numerous video footage of the areas above and below the accident, we could not pinpoint a time the incident occurred, making any meaningful search for clues impossible.

I am often awake at night wondering what we could have done for this family if only Black Swan was available years ago. Instead, their suit was dismissed for lack of evidence. The family was bankrupt from the ordeal. Timing is everything in trial practice. Unfortunately, time was not on our side. Thankfully, no family ever has to face this tragedy again, thanks to the folks at Black Swan Digital Forensics.

Angie Breland