Don’t Leave Valuable Information at the Accident Scene

Gathering Evidence at the Accident Scene

The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is never truer than those pictures taken at the accident scene.  The photographs were taken just after the accident assist our office in representing you in multiple ways.  We want to provide you some guidance to prepare you in case you are involved in a future accident or injury-causing incident.

Importance of Accident Scene Photographs

If it is safe to do so, try to photograph the vehicles in their original position following the impact.  In doing so, the scene is preserved.  There will be no question as to where each vehicle was located on the street, intersection, or freeway lane.  If the responsible party tries to change their story later, you will have proof of the correct version of the incident!  Also, those of you driving using GoPro or some other recording device will be able to point to the video as  proof in any liability dispute.

Importance of Vehicle Photographs While at the Scene

The obvious reason behind this category is to make sure you show ALL damage to each vehicle, both front, and back.  Often, your vehicle may not have as much damage as the impact would lead you to believe.  However, the vehicle that struck you may have significant damage.  Therefore, it is important to get all vehicles photographed.  This includes airbag deployment.  Once away, you can take additional detailed photographs of your own vehicle but the other vehicle(s) will be gone.

Another reason for vehicle photographs is by taking the front and back photo, it will show the license plate number of each vehicle.  This is needed to confirm that the plate belongs to the vehicle and for identification purposes for the DMV.  The DMV will tell our office if the vehicle has been involved in any other accidents.  It is also used to confirm that the specific vehicle is listed in the driver’s motor vehicle insurance policy.  There is nothing worse than finding out later that the vehicle was left off the policy or specifically excluded.

Importance of Photographs of Driver Identification

While waiting for the police to arrive, or in the event that you are just exchanging information with the other driver, take a photograph of the driver’s license, the insurance policy information and if you can, a photograph of the driver.  If there are other passengers, get their photographs, a location they were sitting in the car and if they have an ID, take a photograph.  Depending on where they were sitting bears on their perspective of the accident.  Often, people will grab a random piece of paper from their car (or purse) and write down the information, only to lose it later.  This can be very frustrating to all involved.  ‘You knew you had that information…..somewhere!’   We are not saying that you shouldn’t also take down this written information.  Just know that a photo is also an important tool to preserve the information.  We also suggest that you keep a small notepad and pen in your glove compartment or center console, so you don’t have to search for something to write on.  It all stays in one safe place and immediately available during this stressful time.

Importance of Photographs of the Location of a Slip and Fall

When you are involved in a trip and fall or slip and fall, it is extremely important to take photographs of what caused your injury.  If you fall due to uneven pavement, tree root, a hole or some other cause, it is important to photograph the area from a wide-angle and then closer.  For these types of falls, it is also important to take detailed measurements to assist our office in evaluating your case.  Although we are more than happy to have one of our associates come out to the location, by you taking the photographs at the scene, it prevents the defendant from quickly fixing the cause of your fall prior to our opportunity to review it.

For slip and falls, it is crucial to take a photograph of what caused you to slip.  If it is water, how much water was there? Was it visible or hidden?  Was it a slippery substance? Do you know where it came from?  Was it caused by debris?  Fruit or vegetable produce left on the ground?  These can all be answered by taking a photograph of the scene and the offending item.

Another reminder, for slip/trip and falls, take a photograph of your shoes, including your soles.  Keep your shoes and, if possible, do not continue to wear them.  They are evidence of your future claim.

Even if the property owner or store personnel apologizes or a report is taken, it is not an admission of guilt.  Make sure you take the photographs to support your position.

Don’t Lose Your Photos

By now, you understand the importance of photographic evidence.  Now an essential step: Don’t lose them!  Often, a client will reflect that they took photographs, but when they changed phones, the pictures didn’t transfer.  The same is said when a phone is damaged.

Instead of having this disappointment, we suggest you save the information in several ways.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  We recommend sending the photos to your email address, so there is another location for them.  Save the pictures to the cloud.  Print out a hard copy as an additional option.  Send a copy to a friend or family member to keep for you.  Of course, we will also ask that you send our office a copy.

Finally, if you don’t have a cell phone with enough memory or capacity for good photographs or in the event your cell phone were to become damaged in the accident, we suggest a backup plan of the purchase of a disposable camera at your local drugstore or grocery store. Just place it in the glove compartment or center console.  Just remember to replace it if it gets too old; otherwise, the film will not develop clearly.  In doing so, you are always assured that you can take those crucial photographs and be a hero to your attorney.

Remember, we are here during this stressful time and waiting to help you through this process.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney in Sacramento. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident and suffered severe injuries, call me for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

We are members of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

See our client reviews on GoogleYelp, and AVVO and our past verdicts and settlements.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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