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Taking Photographs After a Car Crash

By Nikita Wolf, Trial Attorney with The Pendleton Law Team

No one wants to get into a car crash and yet it seems like everyone is involved in at least one crash at some point in their life.  Many clients want to know “what do I do after getting into a car crash?”  Although there are many things we advise clients to do after a crash, one of the most important things is to take photographs.  This article is intended to help you figure not only what photos to take, but also how to take them.

What am I supposed to take photos of?

Everything!  Okay, maybe that’s a little too much.  But at minimum, we suggest taking photos of not only your car, but also the other person’s car and any other cars involved in the crash.  Specifically, you’ll want photos of the damage done to all of the cars as well as any broken car parts and pieces which may be scattered on the roadway or any fluids that may be leaking onto the ground.

We also suggest taking pictures of the crash site.  This helps show the roadway, where the cars are positioned immediately after the crash, and other details which may become important such as weather and lighting.  If at all possible, take photos of the cars before moving them!  Some negligent drivers have moved their car before the police show up and then try to claim the accident happened differently than it really did.  Taking those pictures before moving the cars will help stop people from trying to make false claims.

Try to take pictures of any visible injuries you sustained in the crash once it is reasonable and comfortable for you to do so.  You may wish to get someone else to help you with this since many of our clients struggle with injuries that make this request too difficult.  These pictures will help document what you experienced – blood, bruises, stitches, scars, road rash, and more.  Some visible injuries will fade over time, but that doesn’t mean the insurance company should get away with saying “oh, well they look fine to me.”  Taking pictures soon after the accident and periodically during your treatment helps illustrate what you’re going through due to someone else’s negligence.

How do I take these pictures?

Most cell phones are equipped with pretty good cameras these days and many of us take our phones wherever we go which makes taking the above-mentioned pictures much easier than it was 20 years ago.  We can instantly see if we’ve been able to capture a clear picture and confirm that everything we need is in the picture.

When taking pictures – whether its of the crash site, the cars, or even your injuries – we have similar advice: Start taking pictures from far away and gradually move in to get pictures of the smaller details.

You don’t need to take pictures from across the street or anything, but when taking pictures of the crash site try to get all of the cars involved into a few wide shots.  This helps show the position of all of the cars involved, not just your own.  Additional pictures from different angles such as from the side, front, and back will help orient a person who wasn’t there (such as your attorney or a Judge or jury member) to where everything happened.

To get good pictures of the damage done to your car, we suggest first taking a picture of the entire car and then gradually getting closer and closer to any smaller damage that might not be seen from the first picture.  If your bumper is hanging off the back of the car, that might be pretty obvious from the first picture.  But that first picture might also miss the 4-inch scratch on the driver’s door or the dent from a pick-up truck’s tow hitch.  So take more pictures which help catch these details.

The same is true when taking pictures of your injuries.  For example – if you have a big bruise on your shoulder, start by taking a picture of yourself from about the waist up.  This helps show where the bruise is located and how big it is compared to the rest of your body.  Then take a picture of just the shoulder area making sure to get not only the bruise itself, but a fair amount of the skin surrounding it.  Continue taking pictures of your injuries throughout your treatment period.  This will help to show not only the length of time with which you suffered, but also how long it took for the visible injury to resolve (or alternatively, that the visible injury is permanent and will be with you the rest of your life).

Sadly, some clients are so hurt by the crash that they cannot take the photos themselves and that’s okay!  When you are injured, the most important thing is that you get medical attention for those injuries.  You don’t need to be worried about taking photographs of your vehicle when you’re dealing with a broken leg or being strapped to the EMS backboard.

If you’ve been injured in a car crash due to someone else’s negligence, please give us a call at 804-250-5050.