PERSONAL INJURY SCENE INVESTIGATIONS & PHOTOS
Evidence that can make or break your personal injury case
By Bruce Robertson, Private Investigator
Personal Injury Investigation Photographs
It is important to have photographic documentation of the evidence early on in your personal injury investigation before the evidence is changed or is no longer available. This includes photos of the vehicles, scene investigations photographs and injury photographs. The alterations that could change include the repair of vehicles, the wearing away of skid marks and changes made as a result of subsequent construction at the scene of an accident.
Personal Injury Vehicle Photographs
In personal injury investigations it is imperative to obtain photographs of your client’s vehicle. This can be done by the client themselves, by one of your employees such as a paralegal, or by an investigator. If there is major damage to your client’s vehicle and there is disputed liability or extensive injuries, you will want to have an independent legal investigator take photographs of the vehicle.
Independent legal investigators have experience in taking photographs which thoroughly document the evidence, including using both wide angle and close-up lenses. They also can independently verify the license and VIN number to accurately identify the vehicle should the case go to trial. If requested, they can use marked yardsticks and other visual aids to show the extent of the damage in the photographs. In a personal injury investigation the independent investigator can confirm that your client’s seatbelts were in working order. At this time the investigator can also be on the lookout for any possible product liability factors in regard to the vehicle.
When doing personal injury investigations it can also be helpful to obtain photographs of the defendant’s vehicle. This is especially true in cases where your client may have little visible property damage due to an impact resistant bumper. The defendant vehicle may have sustained more visible front end damage. If both vehicles had to be towed and stored after the accident, it is sometimes possible for a skilled personal injury legal investigator to obtain photographs of the defendant’s vehicle at the same lot where the client’s vehicle is being stored. Investigators can also often gain access to areas around the defendant’s premises if the car is parked or stored at the defendant’s home and use telephoto lenses to obtain defendant vehicle photographs.
Personal Injury Photographs
If your client has visible injuries, including cuts and bruises, they should be documented as soon as possible after the accident. If your client or a member of your staff is competent in taking such photographs, these may suffice. If injuries are extensive, it is advisable to have a personal injury legal investigator take photographs making use of lighting techniques and macro lenses to document these injuries. If your client has sustained permanent scars as a result of the accident, you may want to have the investigator take photographs of these scars after a period of six months or a year when the scars have reached their permanent level.
Personal Injury Scene Investigations Photographs
There are instances when it is important to document the scene of an accident, otherwise known as personal injury scene investigations. This would include evidence such as documenting skid marks left by either your client or the defendant, documenting blind intersections, the existence of railroad tracks, speed signs and unusual intersections. If it is not a high profile case, it may be sufficient to have either the client or a member of your staff take these photographs. Otherwise, it is most advisable to have a legal investigator conduct the personal injury scene investigation.
The experienced investigator will locate skid marks and take measurements to document them and note width of the street and other pertinent facts. This legal investigator can also conduct a survey of the timing cycle of the traffic signals and confirm what sequences the lights follow. The legal investigator will take photographs from the view of the client, the view of the defendant and that of the witnesses. Experienced legal investigators will also be on the look-out for any possible contributing factors such as highway design defects. In addition they can canvass the area for witnesses.