Accident scene rights

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by talking fly, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. talking fly

    talking fly TPF Noob!

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    As a bystander at a recent car/train accident I grabbed my camera (naturally) and took several pictures of the wreckage. While taking pictures I was told that because I had taken pictures I had to give them my name address and phone number. After giving the information I was wondering...what will likely happen? Can they claim rights to my pictures? Can I be taken to court as a witness? Can they order me to delete the pictures? I took the pictures to post them on my blog but am holding of on posting due to this...thanks for any comments or help!
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Laws and rules will vary, depending on your location and local jurisdiction.

    For the most part, if you are in public an are not invading someone's 'reasonable expectation of privacy' (shooting into someone's window for example), then you would be well within your rights to photograph just about anything. I really don't think they can make you delete the photos, sounds like it's too late for that anyway.

    I'm not sure about witness rules, if you are summoned to court to testify...you probably have to go.

    As with anything like this, your best bet would be to ask a local lawyer.
     
  3. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    Weegee
     
  4. A&A_Lane

    A&A_Lane TPF Noob!

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    I don't believe they can ask you to delete your photos as it seems to me that you're well within your rights. My guess is that they may need to use your photos for evidence (court/insurance/etc) or use you as a witness.

    Like a pp mentioned...a lawyer could likely answer your question/s better.

    We'd love to see the photos, btw!;)
     
  5. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Laws and rules in this area do NOT vary at all by area or location. They are the same in Canada and the United States.

    You have the right to take photos in a public place and of any accident scene as long as you are not interfering with the police or any rescue efforts. Taking photos of a victim at the scene being attended to by a physician in some areas may be considered an invasion of privacy, if the victim is readily identifiable in the shot. Other than that restriction there are no others. Anyone can ask you to delete photos but you have the right to say NO. They are YOUR photos.

    Also ONLY the police have the right to ask you for identification and ONLY if they have reasonable cause to suspect that you are doing something illegal and taking photos is NOT illegal. Your answer should have been Why do you want to see ID? and if the reply is inadequate REFUSE. It is your right.

    By the way, guessing as to why they wanted ID is WHY you should have asked before you gave it and possibly refused.

    skieur
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008
  6. Kegger

    Kegger TPF Noob!

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    More than likely they are just going to need it for insurance reasons. You have the photos and they might just subpeona them from you.
     
  7. SrBiscuit

    SrBiscuit TPF Noob!

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    agreed...as long as youre not interfering, you can take those pics all day. im a graphic designer for a transportation consulting firm, and we are always looking for stock photos of crashes and such...
    i always have my cam on me, and shoot every crash i see. :)
     
  8. talking fly

    talking fly TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all your help. So from what I'm gathering, there should be no problems with my posting them on my blog...or on here? :D
     
  9. SrBiscuit

    SrBiscuit TPF Noob!

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    sure!
    here's one of my latest.

    [​IMG]

    yep...it's blurry...that was a "quick-get-the-cam-out-and-roll-down-the-window-while-im-driving" shot
     
  10. talking fly

    talking fly TPF Noob!

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    http://picasaweb.google.com/talking.fly/ThePhotoForum#
    thanks for your help everyone...above is a link to some of the pictures. Notice the one with the man yelling at me for taking pictures!

    Note: The man who was in the truck escaped with scratches on his head and camplaining of an achy shoulder!
     
  11. wxnut

    wxnut TPF Noob!

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    Great shots. At least in the last one, you ARE on RR property, so you are lucky they didnt get you for trespassing. Not something they usually do unless you are causing trouble, but if you were to have smarted off or didnt grant them the info they asked, they could have played hard ball with you and caused you trouble. Like the rest have said, if on public property, shoot away, but be ready for a lynching from bystanders. If another onlooker says something on the order of "you should be ashamed of yourself for taking pictures". I just ask why they are there staring at the accident. Usually shuts them up. If it doesnt, I tell them I shoot for the Fire Dept and Ambulance service. Which I do. I just also freelance my pics to the local papers as well, since the FD thing isn't paid. I donate them to the depts for training and such. They are always happy to see me at a scene and encourage me to "Get some good shots".

    One other note, while a bystander being upset with you for taking pics is their tough luck... if a person involved in the accident is upset about it, or a friend or family member comes on scene and gets upset, you SHOULD stop, or find a place where they will not see it. Just common respect for them, but by no means law unless a police officer tells you to move along. (Which doesnt happen unless its a very gruesome scene, or you are in the way or causing some other problem.

    Again, great shots. Here are some of mine...

    http://www.wxnut.net/12-02-07.htm
    http://www.wxnut.net/2-09-08.htm
    http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/sherman.htm
    http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/151-49.htm
    http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/accident5.htm
    http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/woodtruckaccident.htm


    And unrelated, but same rules apply. FIRES!

    http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/housefire1.htm
    http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/housefire2.htm
    http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/fire1.htm
    http://www.wxnut.net/6-12-08.htm
    http://www.wxnut.net/5-15-08.htm
    http://www.wxnut.net/4-13-08.htm
    http://www.wxnut.net/6-30-07.htm
    http://www.wxnut.net/3-08-07.htm

    Doug Raflik
     
  12. skates94

    skates94 TPF Noob!

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    From a Law Enforcement officer perspective we really don't like people hanging around taking photos..... primarily because we don't want to be in them.

    But you are allowed to do so....... any smart cop won't bother you. However an accident or any other scene is considered an active crime scene and we can restrict access to an area.

    As far as being asked for identification...... If you are not under arrest a police officer can pretty much ask you anything, it's considered a consentual encounter. Your under no obligation to provide it or respond to the questions but most people do.
     

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