Investigative Tools for Paralegals
Axley Brynelson, LLP’s diverse areas of practice often require thinking and theorizing “outside of the box.” As a paralegal working in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice defense and general liability defense, I have found several Internet sites that help make my job easier and help our attorneys find information relevant to their cases in an expeditious manner. Oftentimes this information is free, which ultimately saves our clients money.
Starting with personal injury, many of the basics are available on-line for free:
- Accident reports from the City of Madison
- Corporate records checks from the State of Wisconsin
- Criminal background checks from CCAP. This site is also invaluable when checking recent filings in an open case, as are the court sites, such as the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin.
Internet sites are also an invaluable tool to research a variety of medical conditions. There is an abundance of medical information available on-line. Of course, many sites require fees for providing this information, such as specific medical journals, but basic medical information is still free. Most medical illustration sites now charge for their services. Medical illustrations for use at trial and mediation are available from a variety of businesses on-line, such as MediVisuals. This is far easier and faster than methods used in the past.
Although many sites require fees for providing information, one can view information for reference prior to ordering. Aerial photographs are often important in the practice area of real estate and other areas of our legal practice. Aerial photographs are available at on the Wisconsin State Cartographer’s Office’s Web site. Additionally, most counties have planning and zoning, mapping, surveying and/or land conservation departments which use aerial photographs from the USGS. Other sites and resources available for aerial photography include:
Many times an attorney will request information on weather conditions for a specific date. Climate information for specific dates is available from the National Climatic Data Center, and from the Wisconsin State Climatology Office.
These are just a few of the sites I have found very useful. Because of the magnitude of information now available on-line, my day to day list of useful sites continues to increase and I am continually amazed at what can be found.