Scholle Law is a Duluth, Georgia based personal injury and car accident law firm. Our firm works with automobile accident victims on a daily basis and we have two-plus decades of personal injury experience. The bottom line is that our firm knows how to put together a wining case and we have the expertise and insight to help prospective injury clients get the results they deserve. In this article for the firm’s Georgia Personal Injury & Accident Guide Knowledge Center we discuss tips for documenting accidents. Question about an injury case? Contact a Duluth injury lawyer for free!
Evidence Is Key
To have a valid injury claim, there must be supporting evidence showing the alleged at-fault driver is liable for the damages they caused. Moreover, there must be supporting evidence of damages no matter who is responsible. In this article, we hope you will gain increased insight into the value of preserving evidence by photographic methods and how to do it effectively.
It is probably not necessary to clarify but when discussing photographing your accident’s resulting damages including your own injuries, we are not talking about professional cameras or anything like that. The vast majority of people have smart phones with cameras. A smart phone camera will absolutely suffice.
A General Overview of Post-Accident Photos
What are post-accident photos?: Post-accident photos are any accident-related photos taken at any point after an accident. They may be taken immediately after an accident, later that same day, the next day, or even days later. While you should take accident-related photos sooner than later, photographic evidence attained later is always better than having none at all.
Why take photos? Generally speaking, photos matter in every case. This is not to say that every claim will rise or fall according to the photographic evidence. However, it is always a good practice to be prepared to prove your case where necessary. Obtaining good photos on the front end of a claim is a superior back up plan for dealing with overly skeptical insurance adjusters. Keep in mind, it is your responsibility, as a claimant, to prove your case. It is not the job of the adjuster to prove you correct. That is your job. Suppose the adjuster lands on the same conclusion, then good. However, if they do not, you are ready to make your case with photographic evidence.
What is the best time to take post accident photos? Take the photos at the accident scene before cars are moved. This is always the best time to take photos. However, if this cannot be done, take pictures of all the damage at some point that same day. If accident-related injuries prevent you from taking photos, have a friend or family member do it for you. Always attempt to take accident-related photos sooner than later. If a long time has passed with no pictures taken, do your best to move forward with making this happen. Better late than never.
The Value of Scene Photos
Post-accident scene photos show visibility: While the police report will provide the literal time the accident happened, it will not go into depth regarding overall visibility for drivers on the road. Photo at the scene will. Pictures can show good reason to believe that the at-fault driver should have had their headlights on but did not. Scene photos showing decreased visibility for drivers due to darkness, fog, or stormy weather can suddenly become very in the discussion over negligence and liability against the other driver.
Post-accident scene photos show weather conditions:
While issues involving visibility are about drivers seeing what is ahead, bad road conditions have more to do with the braking ability. As we all know, or ought to know, roads covered in rainwater, snow, or ice are less than ideal for sudden braking. If any of these were present at the time of the accident, the other driver may have been driving too fast for road conditions.
Post-accident scene photos may show skid marks:
If you know for a fact that the at-fault driver created skid marks at the scene, this could mean that the other driver may have been speeding, disregarded a traffic control, or not keeping a proper lookout. If you can obtain photos of the skid marks behind the at-fault vehicle while still at the scene, this is best. If you return to the scene later to photograph these same skid marks, it may be harder to prove that those particular skid marks were caused by the other driver in your accident. But not let this stop you. Photos obtained later are always better than none at all.
Post-accident scene photos can show no passing zones:
Photos taken at the scene of an accident may capture the dividing lines that separate traffic. As we know, yellow lines separate traffic that is in opposing directions of travel. White lines separate traffic that is in the same direction of travel. Solid lines indicate that you are to stay in your lane of travel. A broken line indicates that it is ok to move outside your lane of travel (as long as it is safe to do so). If a post-accident scene photo can show evidence that the at-fault vehicle was attempting to pass on a solid yellow line, this is evidence against the other driver. An image like this should help expedite a liability decision against their own insured by the adjuster. The same should hold true for drivers that cause accident s while attempting to merge or change lanes across solid white lines.
Post-accident scene photos should include all damaged vehicles:
Periodically, an auto-accident can entail minimal damage to one car but heavy damage to another. If the adjuster sees only minimal damage to an injured person’s vehicle, this could cause the adjuster to believe there is not much of a mechanism for injury. To most adjusters, minimal property damage equals minimal injury. However, if you have photos showing both vehicles and damage to the other vehicle is more significant, this should be sufficient to show that the impact was not minor. This scenario happens more often when a smaller vehicle hits a larger one. Having photos of both vehicles is crucial to helping the adjuster understand the full story of what really happened.
Post-accident photos should include information identification:
Every person is not honest. Some at-fault drivers may leave the scene of an accident before police arrive. Some hit and run drivers flee immediately. Others stick around for a while and then insist that they have to leave. Either way, gather all information you can that identifies the other driver and do so quickly as possible. Take a picture of the at-fault driver’s license plate. Politely suggest that you both should exchange car insurance information. If the other driver suddenly leaves the scene, you have good information to provide to the responding police officer when he or she arrives.
Remember, in a hit and run automobile accident, if the at-fault driver leaves the scene and cannot be located later by the police, you will be forced to go through your own insurance policy to address your claim. If you have no collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, you, unfortunately, will be unable to pursue a claim at all. This being the case, it is hard to understate the importance of obtaining identifying information from the at-fault driver as soon as possible at the accident scene.
Post-accident photos can address what the police officer missed:
People are not perfect. From time to time, police officers miss things. Post-accident photos at the scene can make-up for where the responding police officer missed the mark. For example, suppose an at-fault driver strikes another vehicle because he or she chose to drive through a barrier at an intersection. In that case, this additional evidence, not mentioned in the officer’s report, could be used against the other driver. In this hypothetical example, a responding officer may have cited the other driver for improper lookout.
However, they should have also cited them for violation of O.C.G.A. §40-6-50(b), which states “no vehicle shall be driven over, across, or within any dividing space, barrier, gore, paved shoulder, or section separating the roadways of a divided highway.” In summary, your scene photos may help solidify negligence against the other driver in such a way that is above and beyond the police report.
Post-accident photos can act as corroborating evidence:
Sometimes the job of evidence is to help support other evidence. For example, every so often, there is suspicion that an at-fault driver may have been distracted before causing an accident. More times than not, that suspicion involves cell phones. It is challenging, to say the least, to prove that another driver was not paying attention while driving due to using their cell phone. However, in one case, the cell phone records of an at-fault driver were obtained and showed that the driver was on his cell phone at the same time of the accident.
The adjuster rightfully argued that the responding police officer could not possibly know the accident’s exact time. Therefore, their driver may not have been on his cell phone just before the impact. Photos showing the severity of damage to the victim’s car were sent to the adjuster. These photos reflected an impact to the rear of the victim’s vehicle that shows very considerable damage. The photos did not prove the other driver was distracted and on their cell phone. However, it sure looked consistent with what one would expect if they were. The insurance adjuster eventually conceded and settled the case, resulting in a very good result for the client and our Duluth injury lawyer handling the case.
How to Take Good Photos Of Your Own Vehicle
When taking photos of your own damaged vehicle, start by capturing your vehicle as a whole. Begin by standing at each corner of your vehicle. Then, take a few steps backward so that the entire vehicle is in the photo. Do this for all four corners of your vehicle. This will serve to put the accident-related damage in the full context of the rest of the car.
Next, take photos of the area of impact. To do this properly, step back and take a picture of the damage from a distance. Second, move in for a closer shot of the damage. Third, take close-up shots. Repeat this for each area of damage until you have clear photographic evidence of all the damage. If you choose to point out something hard to see, use a pointer such as a pencil or a pen as a reference point when you take your photo.
A Comment on Pre-Existing Damage from a Duluth Injury Lawyer
If you have preexisting damage to your vehicle, make this known. Write the word “preexisting” on a card or envelope and including such in your photos. Always be honest about preexisting damage. Dishonesty about preexisting damage may cause you to become flagged as dishonest or opportunistic for the rest of your claim. You do not want your bodily injury adjuster to evaluate your injury claim with a mindset that you are potentially dishonest or opportunistic. While medical records document injuries and treatment, it is still up to the adjuster what they will or will not accept. Be above reproach and give them no grounds to doubt your integrity.
Photographing Other Damaged Belongings
Sometimes, more than the car becomes damaged in an accident. If you had personal items in your vehicle at the time of impact, and those items became damaged, you have a right to make these part of your claim. For example, a closed laptop in the passenger seat next to you may wind up in the floorboard upon impact. It may or may not be damaged. This should become part of your claim. If you have a child seat in your car, those are good for one accident only. After that, they must be replaced. This should become part of your claim also.
In one case recently, a Duluth injury lawyer in our firm had a client that had over a dozen boxes of expensive electronics in the back of his vehicle. They were part of his home business. Every box became damaged upon impact. Consequently, these became part of his claim. If you have personal items that have become damaged as a result of another driver’s negligence, you should take photos of the items in question right there at the scene.
If the insurance adjuster begins to question whether or not those items were actually in the vehicle at the time of the accident, end their skepticism with your photos. When taking post-accident photos of damaged items in your car, be sure the photo clearly shows the item or items were in your vehicle at the time of the accident. After that, take a few close up shots. Do the same with any child seat that was in your vehicle at the time of the accident. You may also choose to take a video as well.
If you transfer damaged items to another vehicle for safekeeping, have someone video this so that the adjuster can see the number of items damaged. This should be sufficient to prove to the adjuster that the things claimed were not added to the list later. Once home, you can organize your photos or submit them to your Duluth injury lawyer to submit to the insurance company. Initially, however, you want photographic evidence that the items claimed were actually in your vehicle at the time of the accident. If you were injured and could not take photos of the additional items, have a friend or family member take these photos for you as soon as possible.
No one likes to see another person hurt. For some, it could seem wrong or insensitive to photograph injuries after an accident. But, you must! Post-accident photos of your injuries matter and very important evidence. When it comes to telling your story, photographic images of injuries are often more impactful to a jury than just about anything else and that even includes expert testimony from doctors.
When photographing your injuries, be sure to do the following. First, do not delay. Act as quickly as possible, photographing and documenting all visible injuries. Second, keep a photographic record of the healing process. Third, make photographic note of any accident-related permanent scars. When your Duluth injury lawyer speaks to the adjuster about compensation for pain and suffering, the adjuster should have no lack of knowledge about the severity of your injuries. Your medical records will help with this, but your injury photos will be great evidence in support of your injury claim.
Do You Need Help With Your Georgia Accident Claim?
If you are the victim of a car accident, truck accident, work accident or a premises accident and you need help resolving your claim, contact us or give us a call now. Contact us today and speak to a Duluth injury lawyer for free. Scholle Law helps injured accident victims every day. Your injury claim will be managed by an experienced Duluth injury lawyer with the experience and resources to fight for the compensation that you deserve.
Scholle Law firm handles cases in Duluth, Atlanta and all over the state of Georgia. Every call to our firm results in an opportunity to speak to one of our experienced injury lawyers. During that call or meeting the attorney will speak to you about your concerns, questions and will also want to know more information about your specific case. During the call you may go over your Georgia motor vehicle crash report or the Duluth injury attorney may want to look at any photographs or other evidence you may have. The bottom line is we want to find out how we can help!
Call us @ (678) 921-3320 or contact us online for a free case review! We answer our phones 24/7 (including holidays and weekends) and our Georgia injury lawyers are waiting to hear from you today!