When you get into a car accident, it’s common to become flustered — you may overthink everything, or feel so overwhelmed, that it becomes extremely difficult to take a moment to consider everything you’ll need to protect yourself in case of litigation. While there are many pieces of the puzzle that can later be obtained by attorneys involved, it’s essential that you take as many pictures as possible at the scene, so that you can preserve them as evidence of the damages sustained. But, which pictures should you take? Other than injuries and damage to your car, what else may become relevant to help you establish your case?
Which photos should you take after an auto accident?
Before taking pictures, make sure to prioritize your safety and the safety of others. Do not obstruct traffic while doing so — in fact, Florida law requires that you move your cars out of traffic’s way, if possible. Once you’re sure you can do so safely, take pictures of the following:
- Property Damage. Take pictures of all damage — to your car, to every other vehicle involved, to any additional structure that may have been damaged (e.g. a fence, wall, or street sign). Take pictures from all possible angles, as well as close-ups to show the extent of the damage.
- Injuries. Take pictures from every angle of every injury — yours, the other driver, passengers, or any passerby who may have been hit by one of the cars. If someone complains of pain anywhere on their body, take pictures of that too. Even if an injury seems minor — such as redness — document it with your camera.
- The other driver’s information. Even the most well-intentioned of individuals can have indecipherable handwriting — or make a mistake while writing down numbers. To avoid this, take pictures of the other motorist’s driver’s license, car insurance card, and license plates.
- Roads. Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that blame will be apportioned according to the percentage of fault of each party — and while this may include you and the other driver, the Department of Transportation could be found liable for improper lighting, potholes, improper barricades, etc… Also, look at the road surfaces to see if there are any signs of skid marks left behind by one of the motor vehicles.
- Cross streets. In order to reconstruct an accident in the most accurate way possible, lawyers on both sides will need to have the full picture — what was the visibility? What were the road conditions? Where there any street signs or traffic lights? All of these factors are relevant to apportioning responsibility among the people involved in the accident. Take photos of every possible point of view.
- Nearby businesses. Noting nearby business serves a double purpose — employees may have witnessed the accident and if the locale has surveillance footage, the same could prove invaluable if it recorded the accident. This is a crucial element, since security camera footage is often deleted after some time — the only way to legally require a business to preserve it is to request it in writing during a specific timeframe.
Should you get a police report?
If it was a minor accident with no visible property damage or injuries, you can just exchange information with the other driver. However, if one of the drivers was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, someone was injured, any of the vehicles have to be towed, or a commercial motor vehicle was involved in the accident, Florida Statutes section 316.066 requires a written police report including the following information:
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Full names, addresses, and insurance information of drivers involved
- A description of the motor vehicles involved
- Names and contact information of passengers
- Names and contact information of witnesses
- The name, badge number, and law enforcement agency of the officer
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Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.