In our last post, we told you what to do after a car accident. Now, we’re going to dive deeper into the smell of asphalt; the crumpled bumpers; the expressions of dull horror—specifically, we’re going to talk about gathering information and taking pictures as the dust settles.
The better your evidence, the better your chances for recovering compensation for your injuries, vehicle damage, and aggravation. By “evidence” we mean photos. Lots of photos.
So right after you call the police to report the crash and get paramedics on their way, pull out the camera or smartphone.
Information Can Make or Break Your Case
Don’t be shy. You need information from the other driver or drivers involved in the incident. Get out and talk. (At all times, be aware of the surrounding traffic—if you are in danger, move.) Ask for drivers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information. Ask for email addresses. Find out if they’re the owners of the cars, and if not, who is. Don’t talk about blame right now, just exchange names and digits.
The more information you gather at the scene, the stronger your case will be for what happened. Instead of writing down numbers and potentially misspelling or forgetting to ask for details, why not take photos of everything you need? Don’t assume people will tell the truth, or even remember things correctly a few weeks or months later. Here’s how you ensure you’re getting the right information:
- Take a photo of each driver’s license.
- Take a photo of each vehicle’s insurance card.
- Take a photo of each vehicle’s license plate.
- Witnesses? Take photos of their business cards or driver’s licenses.
Even witnesses who did not see the accident can help you: they can testify to the demeanor of the other driver or drivers. Regardless, let that snazzy smartphone do the work for you—take pictures of everything.
Photos Tell Your Story
How did the accident happen? Let the photos you take tell the story. Try to let someone looking at the photos see exactly what you saw. (If it helps, think of this as photojournalism.) If you can, take pictures or video of the accident scene as it is, before moving any vehicles. If it’s dark out, use a flash. Even if you shoot video, you should take photos as well, because photos show detail much better than video does.
Make sure you snap shots of:
- Your car, from all four sides.
- The damage to your car, inside and out (consider photographing a pen or pencil for scale, and try to keep your license plate in the shot if possible)
- The damage to the other vehicles, to get a complete picture of what happened.
- The road – any potholes, skid marks, guard rails, vehicle parts, damaged objects or obstacles, or other evidence left by the crash.
- The conditions – the weather, visibility, street signs, intersections, and any other external factors that contributed to the crash.
- You and your passengers, if you’re visibly hurt. Injuries may not show up all at once—bruises can take a few days to darken. Take progress shots of your injuries, and when you go to see a doctor, have him or her document the injuries as well.
- Other drivers and passengers – this is proof positive of who was there at the time of the accident.
- Police officers, EMTs, and any witnesses – again, this can be useful in proving who was actually on the scene at the accident, and what happened moment by moment.
Helpful hints: use a landmark in your shots to establish scale (that is, how big things are). Take the same photo from at least three different angles. Get different distance shots: panoramic view, mid-range, and close-up. These photos will paint a picture that cannot be denied by insurance adjusters.
Protect Your Case: Don’t Share ANYTHING Socially
Now you have your photos. Good! But there’s one more thing we need to talk about: after you’re in a car accident, don’t share on social media. Don’t post those photos. Don’t give updates about your recovery from injuries. You may think, “Why not? It proves I was in an accident!” Ah, you don’t know auto insurance companies like we do. They go for the jugular.
We promise, the insurance company will go straight to your social media accounts and look for anything to use against you. (Did you go out for drinks on your 30th birthday? Clearly, you’re a party animal who habitually drinks and drives.) We strongly recommend deactivating your accounts until your case is settled. Keep your friends from posting or tagging you while your claim is ongoing. We cannot encourage anyone to remove posts, or tweets, or pictures that are already live—that’s considered destroying evidence. But if you haven’t posted yet, then don’t! An insurance company lawyer will most certainly try to subpoena your accounts—that is, demand your user name and login. Oh yes; they can.
Think of it this way: “Anything you say (or post) can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Even things that you find innocent, the insurance company won’t see it that way. Just stay off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, Periscope, Reddit, and any other social media platform you usually frequent.
In closing, taking photos is a great way to support your claim, no matter what type of claim it is—slip and fall, dog bite, or ten-car pileup. But be wise. Having the evidence is not the same as presenting your case properly, and getting the maximum compensation for your damages.
When you need a Belleville car accident attorney, we at Hipskind & McAninch, LLC, are here for you. Call (618) 641-9189 for a free consultation today. There’s a reason we have accumulated more than one hundred 5-star reviews from past clients. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have, with no obligation.