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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Auto Accident > The Importance of Taking Pictures Following a Motor Vehicle Accident

The Importance of Taking Pictures Following a Motor Vehicle Accident

The damage caused by a motor vehicle accident is not limited solely to costly vehicle repairs. Serious injuries and the ensuing legal fees can complicate an already inconvenient situation. Taking photos immediately after an accident can potentially save you from further problems.

The old saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but in the case of an automobile accident, the right pictures can be worth so much more. In most cases, state law requires that drivers pull their vehicles out of the way of traffic to prevent further collisions. Additionally, vehicles may be taken away by tow or dismantled at the scene by first responders. Evidence that could affect insurance claims and legal preparation can be tainted, if not lost, by these actions. Photographic evidence depicting the scene of an accident can help to recreate a setting that is susceptible to change.

Furthermore, accidents are tense situations evoking occasionally volatile emotions between the involved parties. Personal accounts of the incident can conflict with those of other witnesses and other parties. Due to trauma or stress caused by the accident, witness accounts may even change. In those instances, having photographs of the scene, vehicles and persons involved, can play a significant part in resolving conflicting recollections.

The following list depicts what will be most useful as evidence should you find yourself involved in an automobile accident or as a witness to one:

  • Damage and Details of Vehicles Involved

Take pictures of the vehicles from multiple angles. Make sure that you focus the camera on key impact areas, as well as places that sustained the most damage. You should take close-up shots of details such as scratches, chips, cracks, and missing pieces. Additionally, be sure to take pictures of the areas of the car that may not have been explicitly affected by a collision, but may show how the collision could have occurred.

For example, a fender bender can be the result of a driver who was negligent, though this person may claim that they were fully aware while operating their vehicle. If a photograph taken at the scene shows that after the collision there was a cellphone sitting below the pedals on the drivers side of the cab, a legal team or insurance company may be able to argue that the driver was using their mobile device while driving, causing the accident to take place.

  • Evidence Around the Site of the Accident

After a collision, scraps of the vehicles involved and debris from other objects in the crash site may be scattered around the vehicles. It is important to take pictures of these items because they may give context to the accident upon further examination. Any items, such as road signs, damaged guardrails, or fallen trees should also be photographed. These examples may have been a contributing factor to the accident. In certain circumstances, ill-maintained infrastructure such as potholes and fissures could have been partially responsible for the collision.

  • The Setting of the Accident

Context, scale, point of view and surroundings play a key role in evaluating a vehicular accident. Take pictures of the location of the cars, as well as any points of interest that may better explain the incident such as cross walks, medians and roadway obstructions. Take pictures from a distance at all angles. This will help examiners gauge the surroundings of the accident and allow those unfamiliar with the scene to get a better idea of the area.

By including buildings, objects such as fire hydrants and electrical polls in your pictures, you will provide examiners with a reference point to compare the position and scale of key elements in the crash site. Make sure to show any road signs in the pictures that may explain the situation at the time of the accident. For instance, construction signs placed at an inconvenient spot for traffic to flow could show that a driver did not have ample opportunity to avoid a collision. Pictures of the setting can help to depict a narrative that may get lost in other pieces of evidence.

  • Resulting Injuries

In the event than an accident that leaves either a driver or a bystander injured, take photographs of these injuries as soon as possible. Bruises, cuts and abrasions can be a tool in describing the velocity and magnitude of a crash. Additionally, in legal proceedings, both minor and major injuries may have healed well-before the trial takes place. Having visual evidence of the injuries sustained and how they progressed may be the deciding factor in a judge or jury’s decision.

While photographing an accident, be aware of the external factors that can alter the quality and visibility of your pictures. Lighting, shadows, contrast, weather and time of day will all have a tremendous effect on the way a scene can be captured. Take more pictures than may be necessary of each element at the site to ensure that you will get at least one showing the evidence you intended to emphasize. Review the pictures before moving forward to make sure there is useful evidence. If the time of day, lighting or weather does not make it feasible for you to take sufficient pictures of the scene, return as soon as possible when conditions permit to collect what evidence you can.

When faced with the stress of being in an automobile accident, the last thing you may consider is to take out a camera. But having photographic evidence of the event will help you explain the event to your insurance company and give you an advantage if legal action follows.

For more information regarding the immediate steps to take following a motor vehicle accident of any kind, contact experienced personal injury attorneys at Simms Showers today.

Disclaimer: This memorandum is provided for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice particular to your situation. No recipients of this memo should act or refrain from acting solely on the basis of this memorandum without seeking professional legal counsel. Simms Showers LLP expressly disclaims all liability relating to actions taken or not taken based solely on the content of this memorandum.  Please contact Robert Showers at hrs@simmsshowerslaw.com  for legal advice that will meet your specific needs.

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