Taking Pictures at the Scene of an Auto Accident to Use in Your Personal Injury Case

With the ready availability of smartphones, it is easier than ever to capture the aftermath of an auto accident. With the click of a button you can capture what occurred at the scene of a crash almost immediately after. Photos provide a slide show of what occurred, and can be much more explanative than an accident report or witness testimony as they provide vivid details of the accident scene.

Why Take Photos?

It’s quite simple—photographs preserve the evidence. They provide a way to substantiate the damages, the severity of the impact, and document injuries. The right photo may help you settle a case without you having to go to court.  However, if the case does go to litigation, well taken photographs can be used by an Accident Reconstructionist. This expert can recreate the scene of the accident and provide testimony.

What Should You Capture?

It most certainly doesn’t hurt to take as many photos as you can. However, make sure that you try to capture these details in the photos:

  • All sides of your vehicle (even the undamaged sides if any)
  • Up close shots along with wide-angle shots
  • Focus on the vehicle’s four corners
  • A shot of the vehicle straight, then shots of the damaged areas
  • Shots of the vehicle’s identifying features like license plate and VIN
  • Take shots of any interior damage, such as deployed airbags
  • Road signs that provide information, such as speed limits

Also, watch for the reflection of the person taking the photograph when snapping a shot. Avoid capturing the person in the shot. Remember that by taking pictures, you are trying to tell the story of your car accident.

How Should You Take the Photos?

It is always best to take a variety of photos. Therefore, try taking pictures from different angles and distances. If possible, take close-up photographs from a distance of one to five feet from the car, shots from 10 to 15 feet away from the scene, and long distance or panoramic photographs from 20 or more feet away. Here are some additional tips for taking photos:

  • Take pictures with a common landmark as this can help demonstrate distance and scale.
  • Be aware of sunlight and weather conditions as those may affect your photos.
  • If possible, use different flash intensities, and/or take the same shot with and without a flash.
  • Take wide-angle photographs if you have the ability to do so.

Other Tips and Tricks

  • If the camera has a date and time stamp function, use it.
  • Check to see if there are cameras around the scene of the accident. For example, nearby businesses or governmental offices may have outside cameras.
  • If there are skid marks or other remnants of the collision, don’t forget to photograph these as well. Also, take the pictures from at least a head-on view and a side view.
  • If there were witnesses to the car accident, find out where they were and take photos from their point of view.

Above all, please put your safety first following an accident. Do not put yourself in danger just to capture a photo of the scene. Also, before doing anything, make sure you call police and assess any injuries you have sustained. If you need immediate medical attention, that must be your priority. Other people at the scene could help by taking photos for you, and police responders will also help document what happened.