It’s common advice in the age of the smartphone to document everything. Few examples are quite as obvious, however, as in the case of car and truck accidents. Documenting the details in the immediate aftermath of these events is absolutely essential. Not only does the information contained in photographs contain valuable evidence about the events that transpired and the damage that was caused, it can also build and defend a case for injuries sustained and other less-visible impacts of the event.
We’ll go into greater detail on the how’s and the why’s below, but the two main reasons that you should take pictures after a car accident are: to document evidence from the scene which will help you make an accurate and complete insurance claim, and to protect you in the event that the insurers attempt to minimize or dismiss your claim.
Hitting a Wall with the Insurance Companies?
Reason 1: Documenting Evidence for a Complete and Accurate Insurance Claim
The goal of taking photos after a car accident is to provide evidence of what happened. It’s understandable to be shaken up after an accident, so it’s a good idea to save reminders for yourself in your phone, your wallet, glove box, or another safe and obvious place, so that you have a reference to turn to. These can include steps to take and information like the following about documenting the scene.
What do you want to capture in the scene when taking pictures of a car accident?
Liability: This is an important part of an insurance claim. Who was entirely or most at fault for the event? Sometimes photos can support liability assertions, by showing the position of the cars in relation to each other, where they are in lanes of traffic, and in proximity to other obstacles.
Damages: This is the second important part of an insurance claim. What harm was done, and what is the monetary value of that harm? Take pictures of injuries, property damage to vehicles and anything else that was broken or impacted. Videos can also be a great help in showing that something isn’t functioning as it should after the accident.
Parties Present: Take photos of the people at the scene, such as others involved in the crash (drivers and passengers), police, witnesses. Some people may not consent to being photographed. Do not press the issue or put yourself at risk of harm or altercation in these times where emotions may be running high. But, if you can photograph people, do so. Photo verification always helps support the truth.
Location and Surrounding Scenery: Capturing street signs, wider shots of the scene, the road or intersection can all help provide perspective about exactly what happened. Even framing shots to show that the event took place on a sunny day or in bad weather can be important in supporting a statement of events within a claim.
Other Tips for Pictures
Take more than you think you need. Blurry images, too dark or overly bright photos, photobombs, and accidental deletions are all the enemies of great photo evidence. Take extra shots and multiple angles to be sure to capture everything.
Get date and time stamps. Most cameras are equipped with time and date stamps, but an additional safeguard to back up your account of events having happened at a particular date and time is to email the images you collect. Then you have the additional support of a date and time stamped correspondence with the photos.
If you can’t, ask someone else to take them. If you’re hurt or unable to take pictures after a car accident, ask a trusted source to help. Law enforcement, passengers or witnesses could all be helpful. It’s a good idea to talk with your family and your kids about what to do in accidents too, so that if you are unconscious or seriously injured in an accident, you already have an action plan to get the help you need.
Reason 2: Protection from Insurance Adjuster Minimization or Denial
How Do Photos Help?
When you are taking pictures after a car accident and the accident scene, keep in mind how they will be used. Other people who have no relationship to you and no knowledge of the incident will need to be able to look at these images and see what you saw at the scene. Ideally the pictures should show enough detail about placement of people and vehicles, extent of damage and injury, and special factors of the surrounding area that those viewing them will be left with little doubt of what happened.
There is not much evidence stronger than a photo. When you pair your pictures with a police report and witness statements, you should end up with a very complete and accurate account of the event. When you bring photos to your accident attorney, they can build a compelling file of evidence to present in their demands to the insurance company. Showing this kind of documentation forces the adjusters to take you seriously and pay attention to your claims. They can’t be derelict in their duties with the facts of the accidents glaring at them. Strong photo evidence can mean the best claim outcome and best compensation payout for you.
Call Your Auto Accident Attorney Today to Get to Work on Your Case.
Protection Against MIST Denials
What is MIST? MIST, or Minor Impact Soft Tissue, refers to a concept in insurance protocol that draws a correlation between minor property damage and minor bodily injury to people in a car accident. The idea is that if the damage to the vehicles is not dramatic, the injuries that resulted from the collision must be minor.
In fact, multiple studies have contradicted this logic, but it is still a widely held belief in insurance carrier process and in general public opinion. There are a couple of factors that can contradict the MIST principle. First, minor damage to a vehicle is not always an indicator that the impact to the passengers was small. Modern vehicles are increasingly sturdy in design. They may be able to withstand strong impact that significantly throws around passengers without showing significant harm to the body of the vehicle.
Second, and this is where photos can specifically help, sometimes the damage to just one vehicle does not tell the whole story. For example, in the below image, the passengers of the SUV (on the right) have injuries. Looking at the damage to their SUV alone, insurance adjusters may wonder why they claim to be hurt, because the collision looks extremely minor based on minimal property damage to that vehicle. Seeing the second vehicle (on the left) however, with the accordioned front hood, one can tell that the crash carried significant force. Suddenly, in the eyes of those evaluating the photo evidence, injuries seem much more likely and justifiable. If the occupants of the SUV had not photographed the other car, and only their own property damage, their case may have been much less strong!
Hopefully this information has shed some light on the reasons why so much importance is placed on documenting accident scenes. As frustrating as it is, insurance carriers simply cannot be counted on to do the right thing and pay out claims fairly. Evidence to support your account of events is essential to be believed, taken seriously, and successful in pursuing the full compensation you deserve.
If you have questions about this process, or perhaps you’ve been in an auto accident, are armed with your pictures after a car accident, and aren’t sure where to turn next, Thompson Law is here to help. Reach out to our expert team anytime. Legal professionals are standing by 24/7 to take your call whenever you need us. In a free, no-risk phone call of 15 minutes or less, you can have a dedicated attorney assigned to your case and be on the path to recovery and compensation. What do you have to lose?
If you found this article helpful, you may also like:
7 Things Your Insurance Adjuster Doesn’t Want You to Know
Do I Need an Attorney to Handle My Truck Accident Case?
Get Necessary Medical Care After Your Accident
The State of Texas has a statute of limitations of two (2) years for personal injury cases, so if you have suffered after being hurt in a car accident, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The sooner you know your options, the sooner you are on the path to recovery and your deserved compensation. However, delayed onset injuries are no less deserving of justice. If you’ve been hesitating to reach out, don’t delay any further. Call Thompson Law right away for assistance with your injury and claim.