If someone’s carelessness caused your injury, I recommend that you take pictures of the accident scene as soon as possible. You should also take pictures of any other evidence. If you do not take pictures, this may be just one more added issue to the list of things can affect the amount of your personal injury settlement.
The goal is to get a result that is as close as possible to the full value of your case. When you take pictures, be sure to use the best camera possible and take clear and crisp pictures. The more documentation the better.
In order to reach a settlement that is as good as possible with the facts that you have, you should know 2 important reasons to take photos of the accident scene (or any evidence):
1. Evidence may be lost:
After a car accident, most people are in a hurry to get their vehicle fixed. If you have not taken pictures of the damage to your car and you have your car repaired, it will no longer be possible to take pictures of the damage to your car and the evidence will be lost. If you – or someone who you know – does not take pictures of the car, truck or motorcycle that was involved in the accident, immediately following the accident, you may lose the chance to take photos forever.
Start by taking sixteen (16) pictures of the car(s) involved in the wreck from each angle possible. You can then go from there.
Also, the other driver may try to say that your car – or his or her car – was not badly damaged or try to minimize the damage. The insurance adjuster may try to argue that you could not have been injured in such a “minor” accident. This is particular true if you are claiming an injury that a doctor can argue is not acute such as a herniated disc, bulging disc, shoulder (rotator cuff tear), ankle tear, back pain, neck pain, etc.
Pictures speak a million words and with this in mind, you can fight the insurance company’s argument that the accident was minor. You can show that your accident involved a heavy impact.
If you were injured on someone else’s property, pictures may be crucial. I have seen the following happen after my client was injured on someone’s property:
- A restaurant closed down (went out of business). $210,000 Settlement for broken wrist.
- Steps painted.
- Broken tile repaired.
- Broken shower glass fixed. $31,500 Settlement with Liberty Mutual. All settlements in this article before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
- Liquid spills cleaned up.
Other maintenance or repairs that the property owner may do or make after your fall, thus possibly reducing the full value of your injury case, are:
- Algae that you slipped and fell on is cleaned up.
You always want pictures of the incident scene if possible. If you have pictures then the person who caused the accident may be less likely to deny the true version of the story.
I have seen the person who caused your injuries say that there was nothing wrong with their property. If you have pictures of the things that caused your injuries, this may greatly help your accident case. Many times after an accident, the other person will agree that they were wrong, yet as time passes they change their story and deny that they did anything wrong.
Accident scenes change, especially following an accident. People usually heal (at least to some extent) from their injuries. If you were injured in a car accident, there may have been construction taking place and if you were not able to get photos of the accident scene and it changes, it may/will be impossible to accurate show what the scene looked like at the time of the accident.
So in other words, the person who caused your auto accident may try to place blame on a construction company (or other party) and this will reduce your payout if the jury believes their story. If you have pictures which dispute the testimony of the person – or company – that caused the accident, the jury may take your word instead of theirs. Juries, like people, do not like dishonesty.
Furthermore, if you have bruising, scrapes or cuts following an accident, you should take pictures. These may disappear as time goes by. Even if a doctor documents these injuries in your medical records, pictures can be much more convincing. Liability insurance companies sometimes argue that you overtreated – went to the doctor too many times – and/or that your injuries were not caused by the accident. They may argue that you were not in pain.
Florida defense lawyers sometimes argue that your injuries were not caused by the accident. You can combat this with pictures of your injuries.
2. A picture speaks a thousand words.
This is a very old saying but it still holds true in any Florida personal injury case. Of course your testimony (or other witness testimony) describing your injuries – or the accident scene – is important. But a picture may hold more value because it is less biased than a witness testimony. Claimants and witnesses may exaggerate or lie, but a photo is unbiased and objective.
Claims adjusters need to be able to justify to their supervisor their reason for asking for a certain amount of authority (money) to settle a personal injury claim. If you send the adjuster pictures, then you may help give them the documentation that they need to justify their offer. A picture may show the severity of the damage. Most of the time, judges in a Florida personal injury cases allow the jury to look at the pictures of damage to automobiles involved in car accident.
You should expect that if there is little property damage to the vehicles involved in a car accident, the liability claims adjuster will argue to try to deny that the accident caused or aggravated a herniated disc. The same is true if you are claiming that you have a shoulder tear was caused by the accident. So if you end up having shoulder surgery from a car accident, you will be thankful that you took pictures of the damage to the vehicles involved.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2011 and has been completely revamped and updated.