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The Importance of Accident Scene Photos and How to Take Them

Personal Injury

Photos from the scene of an accident are valuable evidence in court. After an accident, many people are understandably more focused on recovery than capturing footage of the scene. However, whenever possible, taking photos from the scene of an accident can provide the support you need to win a claim in court. 

The team at Alvine Law Firm in Sioux Falls, SD, offer comprehensive legal support to individuals in personal injury lawsuits, criminal cases, and workers’ compensation cases. Contact us to request a free consultation and discuss your case with an experienced attorney. 

The Value of Photographic Evidence After a Motor Accident 

When someone is affected by a motor accident, photos offer tangible evidence for lawyers, the court, and insurance providers. They highlight the extent of damage and possibly capture additional factors that may have played a role in the incident, such as a fallen road sign, broken traffic light, or any road obstructions that contributed to the collision. 

While medical records of injured parties are valuable as well, photographic evidence can help support the conditions that the plaintiff claims in court. Highlighting the extent of damage to your vehicle at the scene of the accident can offer clear proof that supports your claim. 

Most importantly, accident scene photos offer clarity to the court and insurance providers when reviewing your case. They aid in accident reconstruction, so all parties can better understand what incidents led up to the event and how each party was impacted. 

Photographs Can Help Establish Fault

Because South Dakota uses a modified comparative negligence system, photographic evidence can be vital in proving your innocence in a case. Without sufficient evidence, you could argue with a defendant who claims that you played a large role in the accident. If the court finds you partially at-fault, your recoverable damages can be reduced up to 49%. The 50% bar rule dictates that any person found at least 50% responsible for their injury or damages are not entitled to any compensation. 

In order to recover damages in South Dakota, your contribution to the accident must be found by the court to be “slight” compared to the “gross” contribution of the defendant. Photographs help paint a clear picture of the damages and circumstances at the time of the accident, which can support your claim and help you recover as much as possible in court. 

The team at Alvine Law Firm are always here to help; call us at 605-275-0808 to discuss your case and explore your legal rights after an accident. 

When to Take Photos at the Scene of an Accident 

The sooner you can capture evidence, the better. Your primary goal should be getting medical treatment if you need it, and helping anyone who was injured at the scene. Afterward, taking photos can help frame the scene for investigators, lawyers, and insurance providers when determining fault. 

Capture the Immediate Aftermath if You Can

If it is safe for you to do so, photograph the scene immediately after it happens. This includes capturing the positioning of the vehicles, road conditions, weather, any debris caused by the accident, such as broken parts of the car, and any visible injuries. 

The Golden Hour for Collecting Evidence

The golden hour refers to the first 60 minutes following an accident. This is when evidence is most readily available, unaltered, and the events are fresh in everyone’s minds. Whenever possible, gathering witness statements during this period is highly recommended. 

The Impact of Changing Conditions on Photographic Evidence 

As first responders arrive at the scene, evidence can be altered. Changing weather conditions, movement of vehicles, and even bystanders have the potential to alter evidence. This is why taking photographs as soon as you can is key. The goal is to ensure your photographs reflect the actual conditions at the scene of the accident. 

Accident Scene Photograph Checklist 

The following list will help you understand what to photograph after an accident to gather as much supportive evidence as possible: 

  • Vehicle positions and damage
  • Road conditions, traffic signs, and signals
  • Injuries and immediate medical interventions
  • Environmental and weather conditions
  •  Any contributing factors to the accident

The key subjects of the evidence are you and the other vehicles involved, as well as any pedestrians who were affected. Focus on capturing the immediate scene and surrounding areas. 

Your lawyer can offer insight on how photos you’ve taken can contribute to your case. Speak with a personal injury attorney in Sioux Falls at the Alvine Law Firm to learn more. Send us a message.

Best Practices for Taking Pictures After an Accident

Before taking any photos, ensure that you and your passengers are safe. Check on the occupants of other vehicles involved if you can. Ensure that the road is clear enough for you to safely take photos without putting yourself at risk of oncoming traffic. You may also need to obtain permission from authorities if they have already arrived on the scene.

Most smartphones have high-powered cameras that can produce clear photographs to capture the scene. Digital cameras can also be effective, but they are less likely to be on-hand immediately following an incident. Use what you have available since any evidence is better than none.

Use The Right Techniques 

  • Angles and Perspective: Capture various angles of the vehicles and accident scene, and consider taking shots that are slightly farther away and up close whenever you can. 
  • Focus and Framing: Ensure that the main subjects of the photo are captured. Avoid including any details that are irrelevant. Make sure that you capture key features such as license plates, VIN numbers, road markings, debris, and any other important factors. 
  • Lighting: You may need to use flash photography to capture evidence in dark conditions. You can also adjust your position to minimize the effects of shadows, glare, and any other factors that affect the clarity of the photos. 

Do not touch the vehicles or adjust the evidence in any way before photographing it.  Instead, take as many pictures of the scene in its current state to support your case. 

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Sioux Falls

If you are seeking legal guidance following a motor vehicle accident, the team at Alvine Law Firm can help. We specialize in providing support for all types of personal injury cases throughout Sioux Falls, SD, and surrounding areas. Please call 605-275-0808 to schedule a free consultation. 

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