Sometimes we get calls from people that were just in a car crash in San Antonio. They want to know what they should do and how they should respond. One question we get asked is about taking photos of the crash. We always tell people to document as much as you can if you are not too injured to do so.
Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real and these are the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis.
I’ve previously discussed on this podcast how sometimes we get calls from clients or friends or family members who’ve been in crashes and the crash has just happened. They literally might be on the side of the road or still in their vehicle following the crash before police arrive before anybody shows up to help. The first thing they do is call, me somebody in my office. Usually, in those situations, it’s because it’s somebody we’ve known for a long time, former clients, people we’ve known from high school or growing up or family members.
We get all kinds of questions but we always tell them there’s a few things they need to do. One of the things we talked to them about is take pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words is something we’ve always heard. A picture doesn’t lie is another thing we’ve always heard. Following a crash, people that have been injured or people who were in the crash, sometimes aren’t thinking clearly. Sometimes, they’re not 100% sure what even happened. Between that crash and after they spoke to lawyers and after they spoke to their insurance company, spoke to whoever else tells them their opinion of what happened or their version of events.
Memories can change. One thing that keeps people honest is photos. I always tell people if they’ve been in a crash, take as many photos as they can of their car, of the other cars, of people that are around the roadway, the weather, lights, if they’re there. If it was at an intersection with lights, or if it was an intersection with stop signs or yield signs, just to take as many pictures as they can because you don’t know when those are going to matter. I learned this lesson maybe the hard way whenever I was a very young lawyer.
I was assigned to work on a case that was another attorney’s case because I was probably a year out of law school. When I was working on the case, in a deposition, the defense lawyer showed up with a bunch of pictures. He said those pictures he had received from the Texas Department of Public Safety, they were pictures that depicted a rollover accident. The rollover accident involved a tire that had failed. The allegation was that the tire failed due to a manufacturing defect and that caused the vehicle to rollover.
The pictures he showed me looked a little different than the pictures that we had received. The pictures that were really important to him were pictures that I did not recognize. Now, they look similar to pictures I’d seen, but they seemed bigger and broader and showed more. What they showed was additional facts that we did not know at that time. What we learned after the fact was that the DPS had produced pictures to us in a cropped format. They had taken the photos and they had cropped them down to what they thought were the important portions of the picture.
That’s how they had given them to us. That’s the part of the official file that was produced. The defense attorney was able to get copies of the un-cropped photos in their native format. Those photos showed things that were important to our case but were not important to the DPS. The big part was they were very important in determining how the crash occurred and what happened after the tire had suffered the failure. It’s important at the end of the day that all photos are produced, that all photos are taken, that all photos are preserved.
Anytime somebody is in a crash, I always tell them, take as many photos as you can that you’re comfortable taking of as many things that are around you at the time. Following your crash, you might not know what’s going to be important a year later down the road. Take those pictures to preserve that evidence.
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