When you meet with your car accident attorney for the free initial consultation, you can expect to hear the phrase “Documentation is everything for a personal injury case.” Filing the right paperwork can be the difference between getting a claim approved and walking away from an insurance company empty-handed. The question is not do you need documentation because the answer is an emphatic yes.
The question is what are the documents you need for a car accident claim?
Report from the Responding Law Enforcement Agency
The official report from the responding law agency is the best place to start when you organize documents for an insurance claim. One or more members of the responding law enforcement agency collect evidence and get statements from reliable witnesses. Your car accident lawyer can use the information presented in a police report to pursue new leads
and to collect even more evidence.
Insurance companies typically want to see an official police report before examining other types of documentation that support a claim.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but you cannot place a word limit on describing what a photograph depicts of a car accident scene. Although law enforcement should include photographs of the accident scene in the official police report, you should also shoot images of the accident scene to have as evidence to present to your car accident attorney. Pay special attention to tire marks, damage to all involved vehicles, and the weather conditions at the time of the crash.
One or more photographs can shine a brighter light on the accident scene that you might have missed because of the chaos that ensued after the accident.
Talk to Witnesses
Writing down witness accounts of a car accident accomplishes several things. First, you record important details before one or more witnesses forget what happened. Remember that the longer you wait to record witness accounts, the less reliable the information that you receive. Second, writing down witness accounts right after a vehicle accident prevents the witnesses from changing their stories down the road.
Some witnesses might be reluctant to speak with a law enforcement official. This means you should not assume law enforcement recorded every witness account of the car crash.
Proving you suffered financial losses because of a car accident is the cornerstone of your claim to seek just compensation. Medical expenses can be the costliest expense that you face, especially if you have to undergo a prolonged period of treatments and rehabilitation. Make copies of every medical bill to submit with your claim. Include every diagnostic test, as well as the receipts collected for medications.
One medical document that helps insurance companies project how much you might have to pay for future medical expenses is called a prognosis statement, which your physician completes and sends to your insurer.
Getting involved in a car accident sometimes produces a Catch-22: You have to pay medical bills, but the injuries you suffered are serious enough to force you out of work. Filing a claim can help you recover some, if not all of the wages lost because of a car accident. Your employer should send you a document that details the amount of time you have missed from work. In addition, submit a copy of your W-2 tax information for the latest year and copies of the last 12 monthly bank statements.
Expert Witness Opinions
Your car accident attorney might interview expert witnesses that can help boost the strength of your claim. Expert witnesses can include medical professionals that verify your diagnosis and/or one or more investigators that describe why the car accident occurred. A written report from an expert witness might be the document that persuades your insurance company to approve a claim.
Working with an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
We have discussed the most important documents to submit with a claim. However, there are several other documents you should file as well. All the documentation can overwhelm you, which makes working with a highly-rated car accident attorney a wise decision that might pay off financially.
Your attorney helps you organize the documents you need to submit with your claim and helps prepare court filings that get submitted before established deadlines. Most car accident lawyers get paid on a contingency fee basis, which means they get paid when their clients get paid.