Everyone has heard the saying. But in a personal injury case, it could not be more true. For example, pictures of the scene of an incident, vehicles following a collision, or injuries following an incident give attorneys and would-be jurors a much fuller understanding of what exactly occurred. I’m shocked at how many people come into our office that has no pictures of the incident they want us to help them with. It’s one thing to tell someone that the car experienced $5,000 in damage but it’s a completely different ballgame when you can hold up a picture of the mangled car. You really don’t have to say a single word in order to convey what happened.
I’m not recommending risking your wellbeing to take pictures (i.e. if moving hurts immediately after a car wreck, don’t hop out of your vehicle and start snapping photos). But at a time when it is safe to do so, take as many pictures from as many different angles as possible. As time goes on, memories, roadways, and buildings change or are forgotten altogether. If you have evidence of exactly what the condition of the scene was like, it becomes much easier to convince whoever needs convincing (insurance adjusters, defense attorneys, jurors, etc.) of the gravity of the situation.
I’ll use a real case I’m currently working on to drive home my point. A client walks into our office after having fallen down some stairs at a building and suffered pretty extensive injuries. According to the client, the top stair was wobbly and that’s what caused the fall. The client took a couple pictures, but they are dark and don’t really capture the hazard present. Now the building has remodeled the stairs (not because of the fall), meaning I have no way of going to the scene and getting a clearer “picture” of what happened. Does that mean my client doesn’t have a case? Of course not, but it sure would have been nice to better understand the mechanics of what happened.
The Bottom Line:
Pictures preserve evidence. You can’t argue with a picture. Take as many as possible and be sure to store them somewhere where you can access them. Pictures on a phone you dropped in the lake on your latest fishing trip do us no good.