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How to photograph a car accident scene

Photographs of a car wreck can show what happened before and during the crash. This can be important evidence to determine who was at fault.

While most people have cellphones with a camera, many don't know what they should photograph or when it is appropriate to take pictures.

When you should take photographs

If you are involved in a car wreck, your first responsibility is to assist the injured, including yourself, any passengers in your vehicle, and people in the other vehicle. If someone is in a burning vehicle, help them get out. If someone is bleeding, try to stop the bleeding by applying pressure. If someone has a back or neck injury, don't try to move them. Call 911.

Don't take pictures until the injured have received medical attention. If you are seriously injured, ask a friend or family member to come back later and take pictures for you.

What should I photograph?

Here are some examples of things you or someone else should photograph to preserve evidence of the accident scene:

  • Skid marks
  • Vehicle debris such as pieces of trim
  • Vehicle damage both on the outside and inside
  • Any shrubs that may have obstructed your view or the view of the other driver
  • Any road defects (such as uneven pavement, gravel or construction material) that contributed to the accident
  • Traffic control signs (or the lack of)

It is important to take photographs as soon as possible after an accident if you or someone you love suffered a serious injury. Even if the other driver admits responsibility, he or she may change her story later. Road crews may clean up debris on the roadway shortly after an accident. Homeowners can trim shrubs. Skid marks can be washed away by rain.

West Virginia is a fault-based auto accident insurance state. This means the insurance company of those at fault for the accident are responsible for your losses.

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