Canvassing for Witnesses in This Century: Go Electronic!
Party like it’s 1999, don’t canvas like it’s 1999! In “the old days” canvassing for witnesses used to entail knocking on doors only to find that nobody would be home at half of the houses and people who actually were there would hide in a backroom after seeing someone dressed up with folders in their hands. If the investigators doing this were lucky, two out of 10 people being canvassed may have actually taken the time and speak to them, and even then, these people only sometimes provided useful information.
When knocking on doors of businesses it is not uncommon to find that the entire staff has turned over, and for that reason or another, the people investigators actually want to talk to are not available. As a result, the people who are at the place of business when the investigator shows up don’t know what they are talking about and are not aware of a loss that occurred last year, or even more recently than that in some cases.
It is also not uncommon to canvas people at home who have never actually met or seen the neighbor in question. Some people are not at their houses for the majority of their days and are completely unhelpful in terms of being a witness. So, door-to-door canvassing can be very helpful if you can find the right person at the right time with the right information who’s actually willing to talk. Coming across this ideal situation is a challenge, especially if you aren’t canvassing a large amount of people. These days, there are more productive ways to canvas for witnesses.
Now, we proactively look for social media users inside a specified radius of the loss and ask them what was seen or if they know any of the backstory to the loss. We quickly and systematically reach thousands of people in the area, not just the 10 or so that might be canvased if we took a more traditional approach. With these e-canvasing techniques, it is common to find witnesses who can give background information pre and post-loss as well as exact details of the loss. We can also determine if someone providing information is linked to the claimant, insured or a third party. These newly discovered witnesses can help point future investigations; therefore, leading to even more helpful information.
This new way to witness canvas is proactive, modern, fast, inexpensive and fruitful. Nobody wants the other side (claimant/plaintiff counsel) to have more information or be unaware of adversarial witnesses. If you want to know more than the other guy, contact Capital Investigating for help with utilizing these new, proactive e-witness canvassing techniques.