How to Document Vehicle Damage After an Accident


Picture the scene. You’re on the unfortunate 20-50 million people to be involved in a car accident. Your commute to work or has been interrupted.

One moment there is a loud crash or bang and you are shaken out of your seat while your vehicle comes to a stand-still. Within seconds of the persecution, people are shaken. You are in an uncomfortable situation.

That’s fine and to be expected. Even before you get home, you will want to start photographing the vehicle damage.

Before you pull out your smartphone and start taking pictures, here are some steps you should take immediately after a car accident. Here’s everything you need to know about documenting vehicle damage.

Park Your Car

If your car is safe to drive but you have caused a road hazard, park your car at the side of the road. What if you and your passengers are injured? Then call 911 right away. And if you’re seriously injured, try not to move.

Use a cone or a torch if you have them. Turn off, park, and turn off the car. Switch on the hazard warning light if there are any.

Call an ambulance if others appear injured, such as the driver of other vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists. Call a tow truck as soon as you can, even if you think the damage isn’t that bad.

In some states, it may be necessary to call the police at the scene of an accident. Even if the accident appears minor, a police accident report can help you if you make a complaint.

Once you and your passengers are safe, you can call for help and exchange contact and insurance information with other drivers.  Be sure to wait for the police to help facilitate the exchange of information. You can also take out breakdown cover by calling your provider.

Start Taking Photos

Once you are safe and have exchanged information, it is time to get your smartphone up and running. It is a good idea to avoid discussing who was to blame. This might seem opportunistic and grasping. But try to avoid these feelings.

The idea that America is an overly litigious society determined to sue everyone is wrong. Americans sue and claim because they need to cover what is rightfully owed to them.

Your insurer will determine who is to blame by checking the history of the accident and other vehicle damage information such as the police report and witness statements.

Pay attention to the coming traffic and take pictures from a safe place. Remember you are trying to construct a narrative with your photos that accurately reflect how the accident happened in your view. This doesn’t mean you should lie: just that they should clearly indicate the key moments and incidents.

Take pictures of the damage and leaking liquids. Take pictures from multiple perspectives. Make sure your photos capture all four corners of the car. They will want to capture both sides of every car involved in the accident. Here you will find further tips on how to capture the scene of the accident.

A Sense of Scale

Give the image a sense of scale. For example, when photographing dents, scratches, or markings on the fenders, it can be helpful to use objects such as coins or keys to give a sense of scale.

Take pictures of the surroundings at the accident scene. Stand, if possible and safely, at least 10 feet away from your car, the other cars, and any other objects you may have collided with, as well as any road signs. Take pictures from more than one distance. Approach the point of collision and take more photos the closer you get. Take pictures of everything on the street.

If there are slots or hollow marks left on the pavement or in the dirt, take pictures of the car accident scene. If the accident happened at an intersection, it is a good idea to include road signs and traffic lights. Take a picture of the damaged interior of the car. These include deployed airbags and shattered windows.

Writing Reports

If the police respond to the scene, write the first accident report and take a photo of it. Your insurance company requires a certified copy of the report to submit to your state motor vehicle registry, which can take up to a week, but a photo of the accident report can speed up the claim process when you file a car insurance claim.

Next up is the insurance claim. Find a good law firm such as who will be able to help you with this.

With this said you can call your insurance company as soon as you arrive at the scene of the accident or wait until you get home. Your claims officer will ask you questions about the accident and guide you through the claims process.

Documenting Vehicle Damage: Be Thorough

It’s important to be thorough when documenting vehicle damage. What you don’t want to do is end up in court because you aren’t able to probably prove what happened.

If you can document and prove who was at fault beyond any reasonable doubt you are more likely to get the other party to payout. Remember to try to craft a narrative with your photograph to accurately portray what happened.

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