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Tips for Photographing Car Accident Scenes for Your Claim

Tips for Photographing Car Accident Scenes for Your Claim

After a car accident, it’s likely that the last thing you will want to do is complete a huge checklist of tasks. While this may be true, there are still some pressing things you should still do to protect yourself and your interests in the event of a car accident claim or lawsuit. One of these critical steps is to photograph these scene of the accident.

Why Do I Need to Take Pictures of My Car Accident?

There is a reason for the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It could very well take you a thousand words of police reports, witness testimony, and medical reports to have the same impact on insurance adjusters that a few photographs would. Photographs can greatly increase the value of your claim, and make it far easier to share your side of the accident.

In addition to their value to your claim, photographs can be very helpful to jog your memory. The time after an accident is very stressful, and your memory of the events of the accident and shortly after the accident is not likely to be very clear. Avoid confusion and potential damage to your claim but snapping at least a few pictures of the scene. We’ll go more into depth about what pictures you should take below.

If your case should go to litigation, your photographs can be invaluable for demonstrating the specifics of the scene, the weather, road conditions, traffic signs, the position of the vehicles, debris and a host of other details that can easily be lost in verbal explanations. Visuals are particularly important to many cases since they often can clear up confusion.

Pictures can also be used to document the severity of injuries and show your recovery progress. Frequently, photographs of injuries are far more emotionally touching than a clinical medical report or a stack of bills. An image of your pain and suffering is a very powerful tool.

What Do I Need to Photograph?

There’s a lot happening at a car accident scene, and it can be difficult to know just what to capture. As a general rule, try to capture:

  • Your car’s position and damage
  • The other cars involved, and their position, damage, and license plates
  • Skid marks and damage to stationary objects at the scene
  • Debris, vehicle parts, and shattered glass that has fallen onto the road
  • The accident site itself
  • The location and condition of traffic signs, traffic signals, and road markings
  • The environment and weather conditions
  • Visible bodily injuries to you, your passengers, and others involved (with consent, of course)

It is better to take more photographs than you end up needing, since forgetting to capture crucial details can damage your injury claim. Some things, such as the weather, injuries, or the position of cars may be more time-sensitive than other shots. If you have a time limit, such as a tow truck preparing to move the cars, or an injury that requires an ambulance, get those shots first. When taking your pictures, do not get in the way of traffic or emergency responders. The health and safety of others is more important.

Photographing Injuries & People

Often, these are some of the first shots you may need to take. Here are some tips for taking these shots:

  • Only take pictures with consent. Do not take individual shots or pictures of injuries without consent. If the individual is in the scene you are photographing, you are probably okay to do so.
  • Photographing fresh injuries can be very powerful, but never delay medical care for the pictures. Treated wounds still can demonstrate the severity of injuries.
  • Be sure to include the responding officer in at least one shot. They may allow you to take one for identification purposes, but don’t interfere if they are busy controlling traffic or taking a report.
  • If an ambulance, fire truck, paramedics, or police respond to the scene, be sure to take a few pictures to capture the response.
  • If there were witnesses, a photograph can be helpful to connect a name with the face. Again, take pictures of witnesses only if they have consented.
  • If there has been a fatality do not try to take a picture. This is often seen as insensitive, and the coroner will provide their own images, if necessary.

Photographing the Conditions

These can be more difficult pictures to capture, especially if you aren’t a professional photographer. Do your best to try to capture any relevant conditions. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Rain, snow, sleet, and hail may be easier to photograph and can contribute heavily to an accident.
  • Lighting conditions are often the most difficult to capture since cameras often capture things differently than a human eye. You should still try to capture images of the darkness, shadows, glare or other lighting conditions that contributed to the accident. Artificial lighting, such as street lights, headlights, and decorative lights can also play a role.

Photographing the Scene

The setting of an accident can have a lot to do with your claim. While the police report may include a sketch, photographs can demonstrate exact placement, scale, and other details overlooked in a report. When shooting pictures of the scene, try to take pictures of:

  • The area itself. Is it an intersection, driveway, or corner? What does the layout of the road look like there?
  • Traffic signals, signs, and road markings. Confusing signage or markings can cause a driver to make mistakes. These mistakes may result in an accident.
  • Stationary objects around the scene, especially if they are damaged. Buildings, curbs, trees, guard rails, and other objects may become damaged in an accident or can be used to demonstrate scale and placement in other shots.
  • The position of vehicles involved. Be sure to capture these pictures from at least 3 angles, and you can try different distances as well.
  • Debris on the road, including car parts, fallen objects or trash, broken glass, or other things that may have contributed to or been caused by the accident.
  • Skid marks, which can be used to determine speed, braking time, and other factors that can be used to determine fault.
  • Use landmarks, such as trees, signs, or buildings to establish distance, positioning, and scale in your photographs.

Photographing the Damage

You will also need images demonstrating the extent of damage to your car and the other cars involved. When taking these pictures, here are some things to consider:

  • Capture close-ups, but also capture the damage at different distances and angles.
  • Strive to keep identifying markers, such as decals, stickers, or license plates in the shot whenever possible. This can help maintain that it is the same vehicle.
  • Capture damage that is internal, as well as external. If there is blood in the car, cracked plastic, broken glass, deployed airbags, or other internal damage, it is also important to capture for your claim.
  • If your belongings were damaged in the accident, photograph the damage without disturbing the scene. If the officer hasn’t taken a police report yet, you will need to wait until they are finished to take more thorough pictures of the damage.
  • Be sure to photograph every vehicle involved, even if they were parked or being towed. All damage is important.
  • Be sure to include at least one image of the license plate, for comparison later.

General Tips for Photographing Accident Scenes

When taking pictures of an accident, the details are critical. Here are some additional tips to take the best possible shots:

  • Turn on the time stamp function on your camera or phone. Then every photograph will be labeled with the time and date it was taken.
  • Use two hands to keep your camera steady. Low-quality, blurry pictures are not the best for your claim, and can even damage it.
  • Lighting can be a challenge. If it is dark, be sure to use flash, or shine additional light on what you are trying to capture.
  • You aren’t trying to win an award, but the quality of your pictures is important. Taking plenty of pictures lets you delete the poor-quality shots.

Using Your Pictures in Your Claim

If you have documented the scene, it’s time to put all that hard work to use. These pictures need to be organized and evaluated before being submitted with your claim or used in court. Your attorney can help you identify useful images and organize them. You may wish to maintain a digital copy, as well as physical copies. This can give you more versatility to use these photographs and can prevent them from becoming lost or damaged.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, your claim is of the utmost importance. Our Albuquerque car accident lawyer can help you take steps to maximize your claim and receive the compensation you are entitled to. Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law has more than 10 years of proven experience, and our legal team is prepared to fight for your rights today.

Contact our firm to schedule a free case evaluation today. Call (505) 219-2176 to start your claim.


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