When you’re involved in a car accident, the last thing on your mind is how you’ll document the events that led to your hospital visit. But giving this information to your lawyer will help them build a case and win you a settlement faster. Even if you don’t plan on hiring an attorney, keeping records of your accident can save you stress, time, and money in the long run.
A lawyer will have additional advice specific to your case as well as state laws regarding accidents. This article covers some basic steps—before seeing a lawyer—for recording information about your accident for future reference.
Write down everything you remember.
The details of your accident are probably the most important part of your documentation. Write down everything you remember about the moments leading up to the crash. Include things like weather conditions, speeds of both vehicles, road conditions, and how drivers were acting. If another driver was on their phone or otherwise distracted, this information can help your lawyer build a stronger case for you.
Below is an injury checklist of some of the documents and other important information to take with you to your lawyer.
|____||Name and address of ambulance service|
|____||Name and address of the emergency room where you were initially taken|
|____||Dates you were admitted to the emergency room/hospital|
|____||Names and business addresses of all doctors who have examined you (If you can’t remember every doctor’s name, at least the names and locations of the offices, clinics, or hospitals you visited, so the attorney will know where to request medical records.)|
|____||Names and addresses of chiropractors you have consulted|
|____||Names of all people who were involved in the accident|
|____||Names and addresses of witnesses to the accident|
|____||Dates you missed work because of the accident, your employment status, and your pay rate (for calculation of lost income damages)|
|____||Name and telephone number of each insurance adjuster you have talked to|
|____||List of people you have talked to about the accident or your injuries|
|____||Copies of any written statements|
|____||Your automobile insurance policy if you were injured in a car accident along with the “declarations” page or “coverage certificate” that shows what kinds of coverage you’ve purchased and what the policy limits are|
|____||Your homeowner’s or renter’s policy, along with the declarations page or coverage certificate|
|____||Medical or disability insurance policy or coverage certificate|
|____||Other policies, including major medical, hospitalization, veterans insurance, and the other party’s insurance information|
|____||All correspondence you have received from any insurer about the accident or your injuries|
|____||Receipts for things you have had to buy because of your injury|
|____||Receipts for things you have had to fix because of the accident|
Get the other party’s information.
If the other driver is at fault for your accident, you should get their name, address, and insurance information, as well as license plate information if possible. Getting this information can help your lawyer build a stronger case against the other driver’s insurance company. You should also document your own physical and emotional state after the accident. If you were injured in the crash, record the severity of your injuries and your pain levels.
Take photos of the scene and your car.
If your accident caused visible damage to your vehicle, it’s a good idea to take pictures of the car pre- and post-accident. This will help you keep track of damages as well as show your insurance company what repairs are needed. If possible, take photos of the scene of your accident as well. This will help you remember details about the incident, and it might also prove useful if you ever need to show your lawyer.
Check on your physical health.
Your first priority after an accident is to get the medical attention you need. If you’re in serious pain or otherwise injured, go directly to the emergency room. Your injuries may qualify for compensation through your state’s no-fault insurance system. If you have health insurance, this coverage may cover your accident-related expenses.
If you don’t have health insurance, you can still get compensated for your accident-related expenses. This is known as a “general damages” claim, which is covered by your lawsuit. Your lawyer can help you document the costs related to your accident, from medical bills to car repairs.
Get the police report.
If you were in an accident with bodily injury, you have the right to report it to your local police department. This report will become part of your record and is required by law. It can also come in handy for your lawyer’s case. Get the report number and write down the names of anyone you talk to at the police station. This will help you keep track of who you spoke with and when.
While it’s frustrating to be caught up in paperwork after an accident, keeping track of your ordeal can help speed up the process of receiving a settlement. Your lawyer can tailor their efforts to the facts of your accident, rather than having to reconstruct what happened. Follow these steps to record the information your lawyer will need to help you get the compensation you deserve.