8 Tips for Photographing Injuries After An Accident
The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is certainly true in personal injury cases. Photographs are one of the most effective ways of conveying the severity and extent of your injuries to a jury or insurance company.
If you are injured in an accident, I strongly urge you to immediately contact an experienced personal injury attorney so that they can take the steps necessary to protect your legal interests including arranging for a professional photographer to take photographs of your injuries.
However, in case your attorney is not able to get a photographer out immediately to take photographs of your injuries, here are some suggestions to help you in taking photographs of your injuries:
1. Be aware of the background.
Remember that the background will be a part of the picture and can be distracting or even convey a negative impression, e.g. dirty dishes in the sink in the background. Thus, if photographs are taken at home, a plain background such as a plain white or off white wall is probably a good choice. On the other hand, if the photographs are taken at the hospital, photographs showing the medical equipment, hospital bed, etc. helps to remind people of your hospitalization.
2. Be aware of what you are wearing.
Just like the background, the clothing that you wear can likewise be distracting or create a negative impression. For example, I once had a client who was wearing the jersey of his favorite sports team while being photographed. Since he had moved to our area from another state, his favorite team turned out to be the arch enemies of the local favorite. The adjuster handling the claim actually said that my client was wearing the “wrong” jersey. Basic conservative dress casual clothing is probably the best choice.
3. Don’t smile, laugh or look like you are happy.
I know this seems pretty basic, but you would be surprised how many times accident victims smile when being photographed even though they are in pain. Remember, smiling is not associated with pain or discomfort.
4. Use a good digital camera.
Although most cell phones are equipped with cameras the quality of pictures taken on a cell phone is never as good as the photographs taken on a camera. Furthermore, most cell phones do not have any sort of true zoom function. Use a cell phone only if you have no other choice.
5. Get the big picture first.
Start by taking an overall shot of the entire person before taking any close ups of the specific injuries. Since it is hard to tell one persons hand from another persons hand, if the only photo that you have is a close up shot it can cause the insurance adjuster to wonder if the picture is really of the accident victim’s hand. Insurance companies are always concerned that someone might be trying to submit a false claim. Remember that if you get closer than 18” with your camera, you will probably end up with an out of focus photograph.
6. Take lots of photographs.
Take multiple photographs of the same injury from different angles and in different lighting. Sometimes it is beneficial to take photographs with and without a flash. In the case of scarring, natural lighting can be the best lighting for getting an accurate picture.
7. Take additional photographs whenever there is a change in the appearance of the injury.
As your injuries heal, the appearance can change dramatically. A laceration before it is stitched will look a lot different than the same laceration after suturing. And the same laceration will look different once the stitches have been removed and some healing has occurred. Injuries such as bruising and scrapes will disappear in a relatively short period of time, so be sure to get photographs of the evidence of your injury before it disappears.
8. Back-up your photos.
Don’t forget to back-up your photos. You would be surprised how often photos are mistakenly deleted.
While there is no substitute for photographs taken by an experienced professional, with a little bit of effort and a good digital camera even an amateur should be able to get helpful photographs.