If it is safe to do so, you should take photographs after an auto accident – preserving the best evidence before the vehicles are moved, the roadway is cleaned up, and the people involved in the accident leave.
Photographs at the accident scene can preserve critical evidence for your attorney to use in negotiations with the insurance company, at mediation, or at trial, including:
- The damage to each vehicle involved in the crash,
- The injuries that you or your passengers suffered, and
- The scene of the accident including the roadway.
In our experience after handling hundreds of automobile accidents in the Myrtle Beach area, there is no better evidence than when we can show an insurance adjuster or a jury what happened, rather than just telling them.
What Photographs Should I Take After an Accident?
Do not attempt to take photographs after an auto accident if you are injured, if there is heavy traffic, or if it will place you in harm’s way.
However, when you can safely take pictures, you can provide your attorney with invaluable evidence of the extent and location of damage to the vehicles, visible injuries that were suffered, and the scene of the accident.
Damage to the Vehicles
Photos of damage to your vehicle can help the property damage adjuster pay for your vehicle’s repair or replacement.
In many cases, the insurance adjuster will pay your property damage claim quickly and without the help of an auto accident attorney. There is usually a separate adjuster who handles the property damage claim – you should not make any statements about your injuries, accept an offer for personal injury compensation, or sign a release without first consulting with your car accident attorney.
When liability is clear, there is no question that the other driver’s insurance will need to repair your vehicle, replace your vehicle, and provide you with a rental vehicle in the meantime. Photographs that clearly show the extent of the damage will help them to evaluate the property damage claim.
If the insurance company does not promptly agree to pay for your damaged vehicle, however, get your attorney involved.
Photos of damage to your vehicle can help to establish liability and corroborate the severity of your injuries.
More importantly, the location and extent of damage to the vehicles can show how the accident happened, establishing liability, and it can help to corroborate the extent of your injuries – when an insurance adjuster or a jury sees extensive damage to your vehicle, they are more likely to accept your testimony about the severity of your injuries.
The location of the damage to your vehicle might also help to establish liability. For example, if the other driver makes a left turn in front of you without looking first, the fact that 1) the front of your car is smashed in and 2) their vehicle is damaged on the left side panel will make it difficult to claim the accident happened any other way…
We often rely on medical testimony, your testimony, and photos of injuries after you have been stitched up to prove the extent of your injuries after a car accident.
Although it is not necessary to prove your damages, photos of your injuries immediately after the crash can help the insurance adjuster or jury to understand the shock and terror of the crash and justify the amount that we are demanding for your pain and suffering that was caused by the crash.
The Accident Scene
Photos of the accident scene can be invaluable in establishing liability because they can show:
- The location of the vehicles when they came to rest,
- Skid marks, or the absence of skid marks, to show that you applied your brakes to avoid the accident (or that the other driver didn’t),
- Broken glass or automobile parts in the road, and
- The road conditions – whether there was rain or ice on the road, potholes, gravel, or obstructions in the roadway.
It’s important to take both close-up photos and then to move further away and take photos from a few different angles that show the entire accident scene from a distance.
Why Should I Take Photographs After an Accident?
We understand that, in many cases, an accident victim will not be able to take photographs after an accident.
It may not be safe due to heavy traffic, your injuries may prevent you from moving around and taking pictures, another motorist may need assistance or first aid, or there may be agitated and belligerent persons on the scene that prevent you from moving around freely.
When you can take photographs, however, it can help by:
- Allowing us to show instead of telling an insurance adjuster or jury what happened,
- Providing first-hand evidence of liability and damages,
- Allowing us to assess your case more accurately at the beginning including potential issues with liability,
- Potentially increasing the value of your case, and
- Providing concrete evidence for your accident reconstructionist if one is needed.
There are times when a video from the accident scene can also be invaluable.
For example, if the other driver or their passenger jumps out of their vehicle and begins yelling or threatening you, you can document their behavior by immediately pulling out your phone and making a video.
If you are being threatened or someone on the scene is being belligerent, do not engage them – record their conduct, remain silent or talk to them calmly, and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
Car Accident Attorneys in Myrtle Beach, SC
The Myrtle Beach car accident lawyers at Coastal Law will help you to demand full and fair compensation to settle your auto accident claim, which includes economic damages, non-economic damages, and, in some cases, punitive damages.
Ready to speak with a personal injury attorney? Contact Coastal Law to discuss your case. Call us at 843-488-5000 for a free consultation or use our online form.