Got A Camera Phone? What You Can And Can't Record At The Accident Scene

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Your cell phone's camera is more than just a way to take selfies. It's also a valuable weapon in securing evidence for your auto accident case. If you're ever in an accident on the road, you can use your camera phone to take snapshots of the condition of the road, as well as the condition of your car or truck after the accident. But there are other things you can and can't record with your camera phone at the accident scene. Keep reading to find out more.

What Kind of Pictures Should You Take?

Knowing the exact location of your incident is critical for your case. Although most streets, roads and intersections have street signs with names and numbers to indicate their locations, some areas don't have visible street signs. If your accident occurred on an unmarked roadway, your attorney may have a hard time locating the scene of your accident on time. However, if you take pictures of any structures in the area, including homes, businesses and abandoned buildings, you may speed up the investigation of your accident faster.

Here are some tips that may help you take the right snapshots:

  • Take pictures of structures located on the left and right sides of the accident scene. Be sure to include any visible business signs, including sidewalk signs and window signs that help your attorney locate the area in an Internet search or local business directory.
  • Record images of any vacant lots that have large for sale signs or construction signs on them. Your attorney can look up the companies listed on the signs to find the street or road's name and address.
  • Take snapshots of any small vendors, such as food truck operators, near the accident. These people may frequent the area on a daily basis to sell their items.

If vendors or businesses complain that you're taking pictures of their structures or building's names with your camera phone, explain to them that you need this information for your case. If they still resist, stop and erase any images you obtained from your phone. 

What Kind of Images Should You Avoid?

If you're tempted to record or take a snapshot of the other driver, don't. The other driver may become angry or violent if he or she thinks that you're recording him or her illegally. The person may be under the influence of alcohol and drugs and won't want you to have any evidence of his or her condition. These drivers may have bloodshot eyes, unkempt clothing or slurred speech. Depending on the person's state of mind at the time of the accident, he or she may become easily agitated or confrontational. Always remember to stay safe.

You should also keep your state's laws about recording the scene of accidents in mind. Recording landmarks and other public areas may help your case, but obtaining direct video or snapshots of the at-fault driver, witnesses and law enforcement may be against the law. Although a number of states allow you to use your camera phone on public property as long as you have the permission of other people or interfere with the duties of law enforcement, some states like Illinois may not allow you to record other people or any areas investigated by the police with their mobile devices.

It's a good idea to ask the attending law enforcement if it's okay to use your camera to record images of the accident scene. You don't want to interfere with the investigation or inadvertently record any conversations pertaining to the officer's investigation of your incident.

If you have additional questions about using your mobile device for an auto accident, contact a personal injury lawyer from a firm like Vaughan & Vaughan for answers.