Auto Accident Records Checklist
Checklist of Most Important Records You Need after an Auto Accident
When the time comes to file your car accident claim, you need to gather two sets of documents: First, documents that show you have suffered damages as a result of the accident. And second, documents to prove that the other party is at fault for causing the accident.
Here is a list of some of the most important documents you will need to submit your car accident injury claim:
- Police Report
If a police officer responded to the scene of your car accident, most likely a police report, also called an accident report, or an incident report, has been prepared by the responding police officer. The police report is one of the most critical documents the parties rely on in determining which party is liable for the damages caused by the accident. This report also generally includes witness statements and statements by the parties involved that were provided to the police officer at the scene of the accident or thereafter. The police report also identifies the parties involved in the accident as well as their insurance. The above information is needed in order to submit a car accident claim on your behalf and is heavily relied on in determining liability as well as evaluating the damages.
- Witness Statements
Generally, when available, the responding police officer obtains statements from witnesses to the accident and includes this information in the accident report. However, occasionally the insurance company adjusters or any of the parties to the accident may obtain recorded statements from the witnesses. Any witness statement is very helpful in determining who was at fault for the car accident you were involved in.
Photographs help develop visual understanding of the damage the car accident caused. They can be taken by the people involved in the car accident, emergency responders, tow truck drivers, insurance companies, or the body shop where the car was repaired. Many times, we are left with narratives and statements about the accident, and are without pictures that can show us the scene immediately after the car accident occurred. It is important to have photographs of the damage to the vehicles, your injuries, and the entire scene of the accident. Visuals always help not only your attorney understand the facts surrounding the accident, but they will help the insurance adjuster evaluate your claim.
- Tickets Related to the Car Accident
Insurance companies will always want to argue, or downplay, the facts surrounding your car accident. If the responsible party was given a citation for their involvement in the car accident, this will help show the insurance company that there should be no dispute in regards to who was at fault. You or your attorney will be able to find whether or not the responsible party was given a citation by looking through the police report or checking with the local law enforcement office.
- Medical Records
We always preach that the more detailed your medical records are the better it is for your car accident injury claim. Your medical records should indicate that you suffered harm as a direct cause of being involved in the car accident. They should also show that you continually sought treatment for your car accident injuries. Medical records can be lengthy, especially if you sought treatment for a long time and/or went to numerous medical providers for treatment. They are also expensive to retrieve. However, medical records are a necessity when it comes time to submit your car accident claim because the responsible insurance company will want to see all of the medical treatment you sought in order to evaluate your car accident claim.
- Medical Bills
Medical bills show how much your injuries, pain and suffering cost you. If you sought medical treatment after a car accident, keep track of a list of providers you saw. You should also keep track of as many receipts or bills you accumulate throughout your treatment. Medical bills help show the responsible party’s insurance company how much compensation you deserve for your car accident injuries.
- Work Schedule For Time Missed
If you had to take time away from work due to your car accident, document the days you missed and how much money you lost out on. You can recoup these damages when settling your car accident injury claim. The responsible party’s insurance company will want proof that you had to miss work. The best thing you can do is is have your work supervisor outline the days missed and give an estimate of how much it cost you.
- Car Insurance Policy
Your attorney will especially want to review your car insurance policy if you have to make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance. Your policy will show how much coverage you have if you make a claim. Your policy will also show any exclusions (and their will be a lot!). Our clients have been in the circumstance where the responsible party did not have insurance, or did not have enough insurance to cover their injuries, but we were able to successfully recover the appropriate amount of compensation through their own insurance.
- Health Insurance Card
Your health insurance has likely been paying for your medical bills related to your car accident injuries. Your attorney will need your health insurance card to collect information about your plan in order to discuss your medical bills with your insurance company.
- Medicare/Medicaid Card
If Medicare and/or Medicaid has been paying your medical bills for your car accident injuries, they will almost certainly have a lien on any settlement you obtain. The process of determining whether or not they have a lien, and for how much, is a tedious and time-consuming process. Our attorneys have been able to successfully negotiate our clients’ Medicare and Medicaid liens down in order for our clients to receive the maximum compensation available for their car accident injury. During our initial consultation, we will ask to make a copy of your Medicare or Medicaid card so we have the relevant information necessary to negotiate your liens.
- Records Showing Proof of Income
Lost wages are just one type of damage that you can try to recover, and there are generally a few great ways to help prove your lost wage claim.
*Written Verification From Employer* Perhaps the simplest way to prove your loss of income from a car accident is to obtain verification from your employer. Most employers are fairly reasonable, and a personnel or human resources department can complete a form (usually provided by your attorney), stating your income, number of days missed, and total loss of compensation. Keep in mind, however, that this is merely for settlement purposes. Such a document is generally not going to work at trial, but it is typically enough to help an insurance company understand the amount of work you missed.
*Pay Stubs* The second type of proof is your pay stub. This can be a tricky one, though. For employees who work hourly wage positions and miss a number of days due to their injuries, showing pay stubs from a few weeks prior to the injury, as well as the pay stub for the pay period when the accident occurred, can help an insurance company acknowledge that you did indeed see a diminished income as a result of the injury. Take caution, though, if you have a history of poor attendance, missed a lot of days before the crash, or were terminated for too many absences unrelated to your injury. In that case, your pay stubs may do more harm than good.
*Affidavits and Testimony* There are two types of testimony recognized in the law – written and oral. Written testimony is in the form of signed affidavits that are made under oath. Oral testimony is sworn and done in court or a deposition. If your injury case is poised to go to trial, it may be necessary to produce a written and signed affidavit from your employer or accountant or someone else familiar with your regular income. The affidavit should set forth your:
- Rate of pay
- Frequency of pay
- Time absent from work due to injury
- Total compensation not paid for these periods
If the case is tried before a jury, the person signing the affidavit may even have to come to court and openly testify about it.
- Vehicle Damage Estimates and Proof of Vehicle Value
If your vehicle was damaged in the accident, as part of any insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, you’re probably entitled to have any necessary repairs paid for. But in order to figure out how much to ask for, you’ll need to know how much repairs will cost, and in some cases, the actual cash value of your car just before the accident happened.
Depending on the fine print in your car insurance policy, you may need to let the insurance company handle the damage estimate side of things. But in some cases it may be possible to get two or three different vehicle repair estimates from auto mechanics and auto body shops. As for valuation of your vehicle, start with a reputable resource such as Kelley Blue Book.
- Car Accident Diary or Journal
While not technically a record to gather, another form of documentary evidence that will come in handy in your car accident case is a diary or journal in which you write down all relevant information related to your accident and your injuries, with a detailed focus on ways in which the accident is impacting your day-to-day life. Keeping this kind of chronological record is one of the best ways to make sure you don’t forget important details and miss a chance to strengthen your position.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accident that led to a personal injury, our lawyers are here to help. Contact Elevate Law Group today by calling 1(888)202-2779 for a free case evaluation.