Recently in the news, there has been a lot of talk about a man living near the city of Cleveland, Ohio. Millions were outraged to hear about his actions after a fatal car accident. The man was a witness to a horrendous crash, which sent the single vehicle airborne over railroad tracks. Rather than assisting, the man started rolling smartphone video.
His smartphone was in his hand, with the video function operating as he walked the scene of the accident, strode to the vehicle, opened the door, and looked on as others tried to help the young man fighting for his life. In the video, viewers can clearly hear the man referring to the injured teenagers as “idiots.” The young man seen in the video was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The photographer has since been charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor, after uploading the video to the web and attempting to sell the footage to various media sources.
While most saw the evil in the way that this man handled the situation, others are questioning the right of those at the scene of an accident. Can you legally record what happens after a St. Petersburg crash and use that as evidence later on?
The short answer is, “yes.” You can record the footage after a car accident in Florida for use as evidence later, but you do have moral and ethical responsibilities as well. By the way, I am not saying you can then sell it later. That being said, if you are a party to the accident, it can certainly be in your best interest to record as much of the scene as possible in the aftermath. The insurance carriers and their attorneys often twist the facts when there are two ways something can be interpreted. Police officers rarely draw sketches of how the vehicles came to rest unless there is a fatality. By photographing the scene, you are often removing some doubt as to what happened and who was at fault.
Many people are amazed to find how little of a Saint Petersburg accident (and the minutes after) they recall later on. There is so much happening in that short amount of time and the high stress levels can make it difficult to recall the details a week later. For that reason, it is very wise to jot down a few notes about the crash. The effort can make a big difference if your case goes to court. Quickly summarize what happened, where you were, and where others were located before the accident. Also record the minute things that you can recall, such as the speed you were traveling at, the road conditions, and any distractions that might have arisen. Write down what the other driver said to you, write down the names of the other drivers and the witnesses, as well as the other drivers’ car insurance information.
Visual representations of the accident scene are also very helpful. Take photos of the vehicles to showcase the damage done. Take pictures of skid marks on the road, pertinent street signs, and/or traffic signals. Take pictures of the witnesses’ vehicles, including the license plates.
Smartphones have certainly made it easier to document accident scenes in Saint Petersburg. The video app can be very useful after a crash. Recording witness statements and conversations with the police can be very beneficial later on. Always ask, while recording, the person to spell his or her name and to give permission to record the statement. It is also wise to record the phone number and address of the witness, so you don’t have to rely on your memory. You can jot it down as well, just in case.
Video is valuable, but don’t overlook photos – take plenty of those as well. Pictures can often capture greater detail, but video gives a better representation of the larger picture. Bring all of this evidence with you to the meeting with your personal injury attorney.