Last updated: October 2023
Car accident scene photos can help support a legal case or insurance claim, so you want to ensure you take good and accurate ones. We’re teaching you how to take pictures after a car accident and sharing some tips to make sure you document everything needed for your insurance company.
Take photos as soon as you can after the accident.
Figuring out what to do after a car accident can be overwhelming, but it's essential to capture the scene as accurately as you can. At this point, time is of the essence. You'll want to document the position of the cars and the condition of the road quickly—even before the police arrive—to make your photos as helpful as possible.
Remember, even though accident photos are important, your health and safety come first! Only take accident pictures if it is safe to do so and prioritize getting medical attention first if you are injured.
If you are injured, shaken up from the crash, or otherwise unable to walk around and snap pictures, delegate photography responsibilities to a passenger, loved one, or helpful witness.
Get accident scene photos from different angles.
Your accident scene photos should be a silent summary of everything that happened. Get some pictures from different perspectives to be extra thorough. Capture close-up photos of dents and scratches to document the damage your car sustained. Then, step a few feet away from the wreck and do a lap around it, capturing the accident as seen from all sides.
Document every detail.
Crash photos are evidence. When the tow truck pulls away with your car, your evidence gets hauled away with it! Photograph every detail before it's too late. Take pictures of scratches, broken windows, deployed airbags, dents, busted tires, and leaking fluids. If possible, pop the hood and document visible engine damage, too. A detail that may seem unimportant at the time may end up being important for legal or insurance reasons later on.
Take the same pictures with and without a flash.
Lighting can affect the detail and quality of your photos, so take pictures with the flash and without the flash. If anything looks unclear or distorted, having a back-up photo with different lighting can help answer any questions.
Capture photos of the surrounding area.
Car accidents don't take place in a vacuum, and it's crucial to document the surrounding area, especially anything that played a part in or resulted from the collision. Skid marks, broken glass, traffic signs, road debris, and even weather conditions help paint a clearer picture of why your car accident happened.
For example, skid marks can offer clues about speed, braking, or sliding. Traffic signs and lights may provide explanations about what went wrong (or who had the right of way). Photographs of inclement weather conditions can account for a driver's lack of visibility.
Capturing photos of these elements can help support your insurance claim, so take pictures of the entire scene, not just the vehicles.
Photograph your injuries.
Wounds heal and bruises fade, so make sure to photograph any injuries soon after your crash. If you're unable to take photos yourself, ask someone to assist you. These photos can be crucial for insurance or legal purposes. If your injuries aren't visible, keep good records of medical documents and tests, such as X-rays or MRIs.
Take photos of everyone’s documents.
The traditional advice after an accident is to jot down the driver's license, registration, and insurance information of all parties involved. However, it's possible to misspell a name or number when you're shaken from a crash. Little mistakes like that can cause significant issues with insurance claims. In addition to getting a paper copy of this information (which we’ll discuss below), photograph documents as well.
Take more photos than you think necessary.
No, we're not talking about Snapchat! We're talking about snapping more pictures than you think necessary. The more photos you take, the more helpful you can be. You can always delete irrelevant pics cluttering up your camera roll, but you can't take new ones after the scene has been cleaned up. When someone has a question regarding an insurance claim or legal case, your best possible answer is, "I have a photo of that."
Use pen and paper as a backup.
No matter the nature of the accident, getting certain details is a must so you can deal with the aftermath as smoothly as possible, especially if you need to file an insurance claim. While taking photos of everything mentioned above is great and technology has enabled drivers to capture detailed information quickly, it’s nice to have a paper backup of important information. Make a list of information to fill in (leaving blank space for the details), and keep the list and a pencil in your glove compartment at all times. This accident information form should include, at minimum:
- Details about the scene (date, time, location, weather/road conditions)
- Descriptions of the damage done to both vehicles
- The other driver’s personal information (name, address, driver’s license number, phone number, insurance information)
- Information about the other driver’s car (make, model, year, color, license plate number)
- Name and contact information of any witnesses
- Reminder to take pictures of everything
Use these tips to take helpful and accurate pictures after a car accident. You might not need to use them now, but you'll be glad you know how to take pictures of your car for insurance purposes should the time ever come.
At Direct Auto Insurance, we believe in taking care of our customers with affordable car insurance before and after any incidents on the road. Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT or visit a Direct Auto location near you to learn more. If you're a Direct Auto customer and have questions about a claim, don't hesitate to call our Claims Department.