A Cell Phone Camera can be Crucial in a Car Crash

A cell phone camera can be essential if you’ve been in an accident. cellphone

I was reading one of our local newspapers, The Alameda Sun, the other day and saw a letter to the editor regarding an automobile/bicycle accident. The author of the letter had been riding his bike when he was hit by an SUV. According to the letter, the bicyclist approached a T intersection in Alameda. He was riding on the through street and the SUV was already stopped at the stop sign at the intersection. According to the bicyclist’s account, he saw that the SUV was stopped and he preceded riding through the intersection. The next thing he knew the vehicle collided with his bike and he was on the ground. The driver of the vehicle stopped, offered to take him from the scene to the local bike shop to repair his bike. The bicyclist not only rejected the offer, more importantly he neglected to get any identifying information from the driver of the car. He was now posting a letter to the editor in The Alameda Sun trying to locate the driver. Fortunately it sounds like the bicyclist was not seriously injured however it seems he is out of pocket for repairs to his bike.

As an Oakland personal injury lawyer practicing in the bay area for over 30 years, I was motivated to write again about some essential steps you need to take if you are involved in an accident. Whether it’s an automobile vs bicycle, auto vs auto or automobile vs pedestrian accident, your cell phone camera can make it easy to take these important steps.

I always recommend you call 911 and request a police officer respond to the scene. These days, with police force numbers reduced, an officer will not always respond to an accident call. I have even experienced times when an officer will arrive at the scene but decline to make a report. They simply advise all parties to exchange insurance information. This can be problematic. If a dispute of liability rises later, a police report can be an important factor.

Even if the police do respond to the scene, I recommend obtaining the following information yourself. If you do not have a pen and paper, use your cell phone camera to easily capture this important information .

1. The name, address and phone number of each driver, passenger, and any witnesses at the scene. Do not rely on the police to get this information. Unfortunately in many cases, the police may get the name of only one witness or none at all. This contact information can be crucial. Snap a photo of their driver’s licenses.

2. The name of the insurance company and policy number for each vehicle involved. California law requires all vehicles carry proof of responsibility in the form of an insurance certificate. Each insurance company has a different format so to make sure you get all the essential information, snap a photo of the insurance certificate.

3. The license numbers for each automobile- snap a photo of each automobile license plate.

4. Take photos of the vehicles involved and the positions on the street before you move any vehicles.

5. Take photos of the damage to all vehicles. Many times people think they only need to get the photo of their own vehicle’s damage. The forensic evidence of the photos of all vehicles can be significant especially if the need for accident reconstruction arises later.

6. If a police officer does arrive at the scene, the name of the officer, badge # and the NCIC number for the report. This will allow you to follow-up later with the police department to obtain a copy of the completed report. In this case I do not recommend taking a photo of the police officer- but they often times will provide a written receipt with this information to all parties involved. You can snap a photo of this so that all your information is saved in one place and won’t get misplaced.

Many times when you are involved in an accident, you are upset and frightened. It is difficult to think about what to do. Print a copy of this blog and keep it in your glove box next to your proof of insurance certificate. Or in keeping with the theme of this entry, snap a photo of this blog and store it in your phone!


Alameda Sun, September 26, 2013,

Vehicle Code Section: 1656.2 California Department of Motor Vehicles

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