Car accident claims and lawsuits, such as those handled by Trantolo & Trantolo, greatly benefit from photographic evidence. But photo alteration software and growing knowledge of its usage have resulted in tampering of evidence. Detailed by the Connecticut Law Tribune, photographic evidence must now be authenticated in trial, and attorneys, as well, must be skilled enough to spot an altered picture before consulting image forensic professionals.
According to DMV.org, photographs are part of gathering evidence in documenting car accident damage, and the more pictures taken, the better the chances of obtaining just compensation, as insurance companies question evidence from the moment a claim is filed. A camera or photo function on a cell phone can be used, and the vehicle and damage should ideally be shot at different angles, including inside and outside. Any exterior factors contributing to the accident must also be documented, including skid marks, obstructions, road signs, or road damage. Photos should be developed immediately and notes added to each for consistency and written documentation.
Yet, the common usage of Photoshop and similar programs calls into question the veracity of such pictures. Certain factors, the Law Tribune states, can be spotted by an attorney when evidence is being examined and analyzed:
• Lighting is a common giveaway, particularly shadows. If shadows are absent or inaccurate, for instance, for an object that has been edited out, or if light reflections in peoples’ eyes do not match the scene, the photo is not authentic.
• Color density, hue, edges, and details are not consistent. Across the photograph, edges may be blurred, color hues and density may vary, an object or part may be moved around or “stamped,” or one object or part of a scene may lack detail compared to surrounding parts of the image. These attributes, however, are subtle, and to detect any of these practices, a picture may need to be analyzed at the pixel level or with image software.
• Inaccurate proportions for people, bodies, or other objects in a scene.
While car accident attorneys and forensic experts must now analyze each photo before it is used as evidence in trial, researchers, as the Law Tribune mentions, are developing better image verification software.