Being involved in a car accident can be upsetting and stressful. After a car accident, not only may the victim be dealing with serious injuries, but also the challenge of navigating the claims process and the logistics surrounding it. While it can feel burdensome, knowing the right steps to take to protect one’s right to their full benefit amount is critical.
At the office of Claim Your Justice, our Schaumburg car accident lawyer will guide you through everything you need to know after a crash, help you to gather evidence and organize your claim, and make sure you understand all of the important details. One important detail that we can help with is taking photos after a crash. Consider the following about the important steps to take after a car accident, how an attorney can help, and why taking photos can help prove your car accident case—
Important Steps to Take After a Car Accident
When you’ve been involved in a car accident, taking the following steps can prove critical later on in the claims process. These steps include:
- Report the accident. The first thing that you need to do after being involved in a car accident is to report the accident to the police. Even if your car accident seems minor, reporting your car accident serves as an important piece of evidence. When the police arrive on the scene, be sure to give them a statement but do not assume fault. Afterward, request a copy of the police report and be sure to record the police officer’s name and badge number.
- Gather evidence at the scene. The second step that you should take is to gather evidence at the scene of the accident. This includes the names of any eyewitnesses plus their contact information, a description of what happened, the time and date of the accident, the location of the accident, the other driver’s information and contact information, and photographs of the accident scene. Taking photographs is especially important, and will be elaborated on below.
- Seek medical care. Even if you gather great evidence and report the accident, if you don’t seek medical care, you may be shooting yourself in the foot, so to speak, when it comes to filing a claim. This is because seeking medical care creates a record and serves as a form of proof of causation; that is, if there is evidence (medical records) that you sought care immediately following your car accident (documented by police reports), then the insurance company will have a hard time arguing that you’re making up your injuries or that your injuries aren’t related to your car accident. Seeking medical care is also essential for ensuring that you get the treatment that you need, and is, therefore, one of the most important parts of the claims process and the healing process.
- Notify your insurance company. After reporting the accident to the police and seeking medical care, both of which you should do immediately after an accident, you should call your insurance company and provide notice of the accident. If you don’t provide notice of the accident within a reasonable amount of time, the insurance company may have grounds to deny your claim.
- Hire an attorney. Finally, the next step in the process is to hire an attorney if you have not done so already. While you are not legally required to work with an attorney when filing a Schaumburg car accident claim or lawsuit, doing so may greatly improve the outcome of your case.
Filing a Claim After a Crash: How Photos Are Used
As mentioned above, one of the most important types of evidence that you can gather at the scene of an accident is photographic evidence; that is, photos of as much as possible at the accident scene. There are two primary ways in which photos are used during the claims process:
- Prove fault and causation. First, photos can be used to establish causation—that the accident would not have occurred but for certain factors or circumstances—and prove the fault of the responsible party. For example, a photo may show that a stop sign existed at the intersection where your accident occurred, implying that the other driver should have stopped but perhaps didn’t. Or, skid marks can show that you tried to brake to avoid a collision. Even something like photos of the sky can provide clues about lighting, visibility, and even road surface conditions if there is precipitation.
- Establish damages. The second thing that photos are used for during the car accident claims process is to establish damages—the degree to which the victim has been injured. Photos taken at the scene or shortly after the accident occurs can show where vehicles collided, internal and external damage to vehicles, the severity of a crash (were airbags deployed, is the vehicle totally crushed?), and even the severity of injuries. Looking through photos of injuries can be gruesome, but can provide insight into how serious the victim’s injuries are. In fact, a photo montage that shows the injuries immediately after a crash and then documents the healing process can also serve as a type of evidence that speaks to how well the victim has recovered, as well as the degree of their pain, suffering, and disability.
Tips for Taking Photos After a Crash
Photos should be taken after a crash whenever possible. Tips for taking photos include:
- Take as many photos as possible. Always take as many photos as possible—less is not more in this situation. You can also use a smartphone to take a video of the accident scene and damages, as this can be an effective way to capture a lot of evidence and data.
- Take photos of everything. Not only should you take as many photos as possible, but you should also take photos of as many things as possible. Photograph the vehicles, inside and out; take photographs of your immediate and visible injuries; photograph the police officer’s badge; photograph the traffic lights or stop signs, the weather, something that shows the date and time, the road, and nearby businesses; photograph the other driver’s license plate, driver’s license number, and registration information. The more photo evidence you have, the better.
- Take photos from different angles. Photos taken from different angles may provide more robust evidence and help to shape the story of what happened and the degree of damages. Don’t hesitate to take the same photo from multiple angles; again, less is not more in this situation.
- Don’t forget the most important things to photograph. Finally, don’t get so hung up on taking pictures of the really obvious things—like the crushed side of a vehicle—that you forget about the important clues that should be photographed, like a pothole, object in the road, skid marks, or the yield sign on the corner. Ask yourself how the accident occurred and what you might be able to photograph to prove that.
Why Is Taking Photos So Important?
Photos are important because they are indisputable. While each driver’s testimony can be challenged, a photograph offers proof. If a driver claims they weren’t speeding or didn’t slam on the brakes, skid marks can say otherwise; if a driver states that they weren’t swerving, but a photograph indicates that they were hit at an angle that would only be possible if they were outside of their lane, their claim will be undermined.
What If I Can’t Take Photos After a Crash?
While photos are of critical importance during the car accident claims process, our lawyers recognize that sometimes, a victim’s injuries from a crash are so serious that they are precluded from gathering any sort of evidence at the accident scene; instead, they need to be rushed immediately to a hospital. If you can’t take photos after a crash, our lawyers can help by:
- Traveling to the scene. We will travel to the scene of the accident as soon as you hire us and gather any evidence that exists there.
- Taking photos on your behalf. We can take photos of the scene, as well as motor vehicles and other pertinent evidence, as appropriate. We can also make recommendations about how to photograph your injuries and the healing process.
- Tracking down other photos and video evidence. Sometimes, witnesses to the accident take pictures or record video footage. If this exists, we’ll work hard to track down these photos and video evidence.
- Using evidence to build your claim. Once we’ve gathered evidence, we’ll work with our team to organize the evidence in a compelling way and create a sound strategy for your case with the goal of maximizing your settlement amount. We can prove fault and damages.
- Negotiating your settlement. After you receive a settlement offer, we will review it; if it doesn’t fairly and fully compensate you, we will enter into negotiations.
- Litigating your case in court. Finally, we will litigate your case in court in the event that a settlement cannot be reached through the mediation process. Our lawyers have trial experience and are here to advocate for you.
Call the Office of Claim Your Justice Today
To learn more about the importance of photographs after a car accident and how our law firm can help, please call our car accident lawyer in Schaumburg directly. We offer free consultations and can start working on your case immediately. Reach us now to get started.