After something as jarring as a car accident, details of what happened can end up tangled or lost in the retelling of the story.
To convey how it all took place, it helps to show -- not just tell -- what occurred. Perhaps nothing does that better than an accident diagram. (See: "Driving your car after it's totaled.")
"An accident diagram can answer a lot of questions and can really help a lawyer, insurance adjuster or jury see -- 'Ah, that's what happened,'" says Hector Quiroga, a Spokane, Wash., attorney and a former insurance claims adjuster.
Quiroga drew hundreds of accident diagrams as an adjuster, and today he still uses the tool as an attorney representing clients who have been in accidents. A good diagram, he says, can help make your case in court or help you through the insurance claims process. The picture brings details to life that help others who weren't at the accident scene visualize how the crash occurred. (See: "Don't let an accident wreck your identity, too.")
"A diagram carries a lot of weight," he says.
Not long ago, accident diagrams were primarily done using pen and paper, but now technology has transformed the art of the crash sketch.
Some smartphone car crash and insurance apps feature diagramming capability, including:
"Pictures help break down any language differences or gaps that may exist between two parties when describing what happened in an accident," State Farm spokesperson Matt Edwards says. "It isn't a replacement for the words, but it is an additional tool we can use to make what happened clear and easy to follow."
Not all insurance company apps include diagramming capability, but State Farm built the function into its Pocket Agent app to enable policyholders to draw pictures while their memories are fresh, Edwards says. (See: "Car insurance firms revving up mobile app features.")
For iPad users who are USAA members, there's USAA app for iPad. It lets you create narrated diagram videos that you upload directly into your claims file.
Another high-tech tool, called AccidentSketch, lets you draw a diagram online. The free program includes links to accident forms for use in European countries, but the diagramming feature can be used to sketch an accident that happens anywhere.
Quiroga also offers free downloadable templates and tools on his website to help you create a diagram on your computer using Microsoft Word or Paint.
Whether you use a smartphone, a computer or pencil and paper, follow these tips from Quiroga to sketch an accurate accident diagram:
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