When it comes to auto accidents, there can be multiple theories of liability. And depending on the evidence available from the scene of the accident, sometimes the victim can become the liable party. It’s not fair – but it happens more often than you may think. The good news is that taking photos of the accident scene can eliminate doubt and graphically depict the accident scene as it occurred, not as it was remembered.
A real world example
Our claims advocates have an advantage of seeing just how important a photo can be in auto claims. But even in our smartphone-centered world, other than selfies, I find that people tend to forget how valuable that little digital camera is when faced with a fender bender. For example, I was recently involved in a case where a client was hit in the center of his rear bumper. This appeared like a straightforward accident case initially so our client simply filed a case with the other party’s insurance carrier. Thankfully, there were no injuries and only minor damage to the vehicle, so the carrier opened the claim and made arrangements to evaluate our client’s vehicle. After the estimate was written and submitted, our client called us, upset and frustrated with the funds received. He stated that the other party’s appraiser only offered to pay some of the cost of repairs to the rear bumper and not all that was damaged. The appraiser stated that there was no proof their insured could have done all of that damage. The other party did not want to file a claim for their damages and was not required to provide photos of the front of their vehicle. As a result, the appraiser, our client and the shop were not able to compare damage of the vehicles or evaluate the extent of damage the other vehicle could have done. Our client was left with the option of only taking payment for what the carrier felt they were responsible for and nothing more.
A picture is worth a thousand words
Perhaps if photos were taken at the scene of the accident mentioned above, the result of the claim would have been different. If ever you find yourself in a similar situation – TAKE PHOTOS! Even if you would consider the accident to be minor, take photos anyway. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Take photos of:
- The point of impact
- The scene of the accident
- The damage to all areas impacted of EACH vehicle involved
Consider the viewpoint
As you take photos of the point of impact, the accident scene and the damage caused, try to channel an adjuster’s viewpoint. What evidence would you want to see if you knew nothing about the accident and had to decide who was at fault. Try to take photographs that tell a story. And remember – It’s better to be prepared, than sorry!