On your normal daily drive to work the unexpected happens. Joe Schmo runs a stop sign and plows into the side of your car. What do you need to do? First the normal reactions of course, check to make sure you are okay and that the other driver is as well. Then call the police and exchange information with the other driver. But what else can you do during that long wait for the police? Do something that will be able to explain to the insurance adjuster much more than your words, take accident photographs.
If a picture is worth a thousand words imagine what twenty pictures will say. In the past it might have been inconvenient to find a camera to take pictures but now a day with camera phones, disposable cameras and small, easy to carry digital cameras it is a snap. Use the camera to document the accident scene. This is the only chance you will have to do this, I am certain you will not want to reenact the accident at a later date.
Now that you have got your camera ready what pictures should you take? First take pictures of your car and the damage it sustained. Take pictures from different angles as well. Sometimes sunlight will make a glare and make the damage unable to be seen and if you just take pictures from one angle you might be out of luck. A general rule of thumb is to take pictures from 3 different angles and distances. The close up shots should be taken 3 to 5 feet away. The next distance out would be 10 to 15 feet away. Then you can take pictures 20 to 40 feet away that give you a general view of the car and the surrounding area. If possible keep a common landmark in the photos.
If you do not have the ability to take that many pictures then be wise and careful with the amount you are able to take. Make sure they tell the story of what happened and give a general idea of the area of the crash as well as the condition of your vehicle. If are lucky enough to have a digital camera take the time to review the photographs as you take them to make sure they show what you need them to. If they do not show what you need, erase the picture and retake from a different angle or distance.
Next take pictures of the car that hit you. If you can take pictures of how the cars came to rest after the accident is can be helpful to tell the story of the accident. If you were in an accident where you are at fault this has to be done. This way you will have picture proof of what damage you caused to their car incase the other car owner tries to later say there is more damage done than what you caused.
It is wise to take pictures of the road or intersection where the accident took place. These might be needed to explain to an insurance agent or adjuster how the accident occurred, or even to refresh your memory about the incident. Be sure to include the names of the street(s) where the accident occurred and any traffic signs (such as the stop sign Joe Schmo ran). If you end up going to court it will be a great piece of evidence and again helps tell the story of what happened.
Do not forget to take pictures of the skid marks, if there are any. Skid marks can be measured, even in pictures if they are taken correctly. If the skid marks are hard to see in pictures you can go to a photo lab and have your normal 4 by 6 photo blown up to 11 by 14. These again can help tell the story of a crash. You might also want to take a picture of the road if there was a lack of skid marks. Why you wonder, well lack of skid marks might show that the person was not paying attention and did not brake.
Always remember to take care when taking the photographs. Do not step into the flow of traffic or put yourself in a risky situation just to get the perfect picture. Try your best to get the best picture possible but without endangering yourself in any way.
Lastly, if there were any bodily injuries visible it is very important to document those in photographs as well. Cuts, bruises, swellings or marks made to you or your passenger(s) should be photographed. Some bruises may not appear for a few hours or even until the next day so remember at that time to take a picture. Again take the photos up close and from a few feet away so that the area of the harm can be seen and understood by those looking at the photographs.
All of the photograph types listed above could become very important in the settlement of your claim. Some insurance companies have embraced the idea of having accidents documented with photos so much that they have sent disposable cameras out to their policyholders. These even included a space on the back to write down pertinent accident information.
Photographs can be the best evidence you can show when it comes time for the insurance adjuster to do their job.You want them to know you were wise and took time to document the vehicles and scene for clarity. The photos will help to refresh your memory and explain what happened. Remember the pictures tell the story of the accident. A story that you want understood.