Taking Photographs and Footage of an Accident
The invention of a portable television station the size of a deck of playing cards has changed society in many ways. But there is nobody as well served by a camera with unlimited film than the person who was most recently in a traffic accident.
Even if you don’t have a continuously operating dash camera, the ability to photographically document every detail of the aftermath of an accident scene all but puts a permanent end to the practice of trying to perpetrate soft fraud on the court in an attempt to win an unfair judgment.
As your nyc personal injury attorney will tell you, however, not all accident scenes are the same, and since every picture you have amplifies the strength of your evidence many times over for the same investment of effort, you are well served by making sure you leave nothing out.
Here are some things to consider if you are involved in an accident and have the opportunity to utilize a digital camera afterwards.
Point Away from the Cars
In almost every instance, the most useful evidence at an accident scene will be found somewhere other than in or around the vehicles. As the better prepared driver, you will want to be aware of some of the gold mines of evidence others might miss.
Start by looking for surveillance cameras. If they are operational, they likely got footage or shots of the accident you would never have been able to engineer. Traffic light cameras, ATMs, bus stops, banks and convenience stores almost always have multiple security cameras in operation 24 hours a day. Emergency vehicles at the scene will also have surveillance cameras and in some jurisdictions, police officers may be wearing cameras as well. Take a picture of every camera at the scene, as that will establish beyond all doubt the camera was there and might contain valuable evidence.
Point Inside the Cars
Anything in plain view is fair game if you are trying to establish the cause of an accident. Therefore you should take pictures of the interior of every vehicle at the scene, including your own. While you are unlikely to find a bag of stolen money or an open bottle of tequila, you may find items that, when combined with other evidence, fill in relevant details that could be helpful to your case.
If your fellow drivers are unwilling to cooperate, wait for the police to arrive and then ask for their assistance.
Further, if your car’s interior is free of stolen money and open containers, you will be able to establish conclusively you were neither fleeing a crime scene nor violating DUI laws.
Point at the Sky and Road
Weather conditions are often the fulcrum upon which a case can turn. Make certain you establish, if possible, any relevant weather effects like ice, snow, standing water, sleet, rain or debris in the road. Make sure you get shots of any traffic signs within 100 yards, and take those pictures in context so later observers will understand where the signs were in relation to the accident scene.
Pay special attention to the road, including any skid marks, broken glass, plastic debris, car parts, paint or tire fragments. Get photographs of any of these items that also establish where they ended up in relation to the accident scene. If there is any construction in the vicinity, photograph it from as many angles as possible including any visible company names, signs, license plates, addresses or phone numbers.
While it might seem like you are overdoing it, if there is any possibility you can get an overhead shot of the accident scene, even if it is only 20 or 30 feet above the road in a nearby building or staircase, take as many overhead photographs as you possibly can. These are invaluable in helping judges, your nyc personal injury attorney, juries and police officers reconstruct events.
Once you have your photographic records you will want to deliver them to your attorney as quickly as possible. This will help establish credibility and the all-important timeline of when evidence was collected in relation to the date and time of the accident. Consulting with an attorney will be invaluable to the long-term prospects for a fair outcome of your case.