Putting Auto Claims into Perspective

Quantity and quality are equally important in accident photos


Utility is something that most smartphone manufacturers tout with their wares. The built-in tools and capabilities vary in use; some consumers swear by the heart rate monitor applications for their personal fitness routines, others exclusively use their phones as portable music players. However, in terms of practical application, the built-in camera arguably has the most value.

Smartphone cameras now boast megapixels, units of image resolution, comparable to actual digital cameras, giving consumers the ability to capture images with surprising clarity. There are many instances where a handy camera can prove invaluable, and a car accident is one of them.

Years ago, many insurance companies advised their customers to carry disposable cameras in their glove boxes in order to ensure there would be photographic record of an accident. This was difficult to do since extreme temperatures and age often ruined the film, leaving the cameras useless once the time actually came to use them. The advent and ubiquity of smartphone cameras have solved that problem. Now you can take virtually unlimited photos of auto accidents and ensure rock solid record of what actually took place.

It can be very difficult to prioritize what to do immediately following an accident. The first priority is to check for injuries with everyone involved, and if there are injuries, to call 911 immediately.

Keep in mind that Section 42-4-1606 of Colorado state law stipulates that a driver in an accident resulting in property damage, injury, or, death must immediately contact the nearest law enforcement agency. Following that, it’s time to take pictures.

You’d be surprised how many people forget this simple task of taking photos after an accident despite its importance. Determining fault or negligence requires a thorough explanation of what occurred, and photographs can serve as supporting evidence of your testimony. This is particularly important in Colorado, where the modified “comparative fault rule” is a factor.

This rule specifically addresses the circumstance of an injured person sharing partial legal fault for an accident. Not only does this potentially reduce the amount awarded to you, if it is determined that you are over 50% at-fault for the accident, you would not be able to collect from the other party. Having photos of the accident can assist in proving your side of the story, whether in court or during settlement negotiations with the other party’s insurance provider.

Keep in mind as well that a personal (bodily) injury claim as a result of a car accident can also be used to prove liability, and photographs typically don’t leave much wiggle room for interpretation. As such, your photos can serve as evidence of the other party’s negligence, and ideally, capture the progression of events that led to the collision.

Taking quality photographs is key, which requires a certain amount of focus on your part. That said, you don’t have to be a master photographer to take photos that will be useful to the claims adjusters. The optimal rule is to have at least ten photos of the damage. By taking enough photos, you are virtually guaranteed to have a sufficient number of angles.

Angles are important

Be sure to take photos of the scene from multiple angles, which should include all of the vehicles involved. You want to capture the result of the crash in its entirety, and leave no room for argument. Even a totalled vehicle can look unscathed from certain angles.

Zoom in and zoom out

Close-up shots should capture points of impact and damaged areas such as dents, scratches, and any other visible marks. Be sure to take photos of the accident from a distance as well to demonstrate directions of travel and the positions of the vehicles involved. Please note that if any of the vehicles require towing, you should be taking photos before their transport.

Roads and weather conditions

This is surprisingly common; while some drivers may be diligent enough to take photos of the scene of the accident, they may neglect to capture roadway. Pay special attention to any skid marks on the road. It’s imperative to take shots before and after the vehicles are removed. Also, make sure you capture the weather conditions as well, regardless of whether or not it happened on a balmy, summer morning or a bitter, wintry afternoon. Are the roadways wet? Are they frozen or covered in snow? Were any shrubs concealing traffic signs? Those types of elements could be key in establishing the facts of the case and are often omitted from information collected for the adjuster.

Keep a copy of the police record

Keep in mind that Colorado state law requires accident reports, and if the police aren’t involved, you’re required to submit one. You can submit an accident report online at crash.state.co.us. If police officers respond to the scene, be sure to take a photograph of their report.

Unfortunately, automobile accidents can happen even if you are a safe and responsible driver. It’s best to be prepared for any eventuality, and your smartphone’s camera can make a huge difference in how things play out, so if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having had an accident, be sure to take plenty of photographs.

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