Pictures are worth a thousand words; they are more likely to be remembered than words. When pictures are taken at the accident scene, they can be the most accurate record of the location and damages to vehicles or property, the road and weather conditions, lighting, and if there were any contributing factors (e.g., construction). Capturing images right at the accident scene will reflect the conditions at that time which could later be lost (e.g., due to weather changes or repairs subsequently done).
Photos and/or videos of your injuries are important as well. The burden of proof of your injuries is your responsibility as the injured party. Having pictures is not necessary to have or win a personal injury case but it can help along with other evidence you can obtain.
Cell phone photos and videos are considered real evidence, so they should have the date and time shown if possible and your lawyer should know who took them. Photographs are best processed by a commercial photo lab and you should have two copies made; one for your records and one copy for your lawyer to use to support your case. Photocopies of photographs may be questioned as to their authenticity so you should have any electronic files from your camera or cell phone backed up and saved digitally on a USB stick.
Unfortunately, some injuries (e.g., mild or traumatic brain injuries, psychological trauma and soft tissue damage) are not visible in photographs or videos. These injuries should be proven in other ways as well, such as diagnostic testing by a medical expert, which is a reason why you still have a personal injury case if you don’t have any photos. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to refer you a medical expert that is best qualified to assess your injuries.
It is also understood that if you are seriously injured, you may not be physically able to take photographs or videos. The attending officer or an accident reconstruction specialist might take pictures of the accident scene. If so, your lawyer can make inquiries and requests to obtain those photos as can the opposing party.
If you don’t have pictures, your case is still viable if you were injured as a result of someone else’s neglect. An experienced personal injury lawyer can use over five thousand words to describe your injuries and detail your damages in a statement of claim for court. Pictures as evidence can be to your advantage but a skilled lawyer can apply the law and medical and other evidence to back up your claim.
Even though photos provide additional evidence, you can still win your personal injury case without them. Many more claims have been won through the years without photos than with them. For example, in Gilbert v. South, 2015 ONCA 712 the insurer for York Fire appealed a case involving an injured worker, Mr. Gilbert, maintaining that Mr. Gilbert sustained only moderate injuries but was awarded $500,000 from the jury. The insurer claimed that the trial judge erred by permitting the expert doctor to give an important opinion not contained in his expert report. The Court of Appeal Judges disagreed, dismissed the insurer’s appeal and upheld Mr. Gilbert’s award for injuries.
If you are involved in an accident, you should try to take photos and video at the exact spot immediately after an automobile accident or as soon as possible. You can also ask a friend or relative to do this for you. Your media should clearly identify the location and the surrounding area and be taken from all directions of the accident scene. Close up shots of the damages to your vehicle at the time of accident will ensure there is no dispute as to how the damage occurred.
If the accident occurred at night you should return to the accident scene during the day to film obstacles, accident debris and road markings that may not have been visible in the dark.
You will also want to take photos and video of your injuries at the time of the accident and on a regular basis to document your recovery progression.
Photographs are compelling evidence but they are not the only evidence you need. Your Whitby personal injury lawyer has the expertise to present all the evidence related to your injuries to achieve the most compensation. Call us at Kitchen Simeson Belliveau LLP at 905-579-5302.