Successful car accident claims depend on strong evidence. Use this checklist to collect key evidence at the scene and during your recovery.
Whether you handle your own claim or hire an attorney, you need evidence to prove the other driver’s fault and link your damages to the crash. Use this printable resource to make sure you’ve collected as much evidence as possible to support your car accident injury claim.
Click on the image below to download the PDF checklist:
The Importance of Gathering Evidence
It’s hard to remember all the types of evidence you should gather after a car accident, especially when you’re recovering from injuries and your life has been disrupted. Our Car Accident Checklist and Guide is just the tool you need to make sure you don’t miss anything that you need to for a successful auto insurance claim.
You can’t have too much evidence in a car accident claim. You’ll need evidence for proving the other driver was to blame for the accident, and for proving the extent of your injuries.
It might seem obvious to you that the other driver is at fault, but the burden of proof is on you to convince the other driver’s insurance company of the at-fault driver’s liability.
After you’ve gotten over the hurdle of proving liability, then you have to show that you were injured in the crash, and how the injuries have impacted your daily living.
Insurance payouts are calculated based on your hards costs, like medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages, with an added amount for pain and suffering. You can maximize payment for your injuries with evidence showing the extent of your injuries, and the impact of those injuries on your ability to work and perform daily activities.
Evidence To Collect After the Crash
Immediately after the crash, call 911 to report the accident and any injuries. When the police and paramedics arrive, let them look you over and treat you for injuries. Never refuse medical attention at the scene.
Refusing or delaying medical attention after a car accident can kill your injury claim. The claims adjuster will jump at the chance to say your injuries are not related to the accident.
Keep in mind that the shock of the crash might be masking symptoms of serious injury. Allow paramedics to evaluate you on the scene. This isn’t the time to tough it out. If paramedics want to transport you to the hospital, let them take you.
Even if you aren’t whisked off to the hospital in an ambulance, you still need prompt medical attention after a car accident. Get a same-day appointment with your doctor, go to the emergency room, or visit your local urgent care center. Medical records linking your injuries to the crash are critical to the success of your insurance claim.
You’ll have to exchange information with the other driver. You can ask the other driver’s passengers for names and contact information, but they’re not obligated to speak to you. It’s a good idea to write down a description of the passengers, and if you see any sign of injuries.
Don’t aggravate your injuries trying to take pictures. However, if you’re able, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles (with close-ups of the damage), skid marks, broken glass on the road, and anything else that relates to the crash. Take pictures from different angles, too.
It’s okay if your injuries prevent you from taking photographs or video at the scene. You might be able to ask a friend or family member to return to the scene for some pictures or to take photos of your wrecked car. There might even be pictures taken by the investigating police officer attached to the police crash report.
Request a copy of the police report. Most car accident police reports are available within one to two weeks after the accident. Police reports are compelling evidence of fault, especially if the at-fault driver was ticketed.
Try to get pictures of your injuries as you recover. If a family member has pictures of you in the hospital after the crash, get copies for your injury file.
While still at the scene of the crash, keep your eyes and ears open. As soon as possible, write down everything you remember that happened before, during, and after the crash. Write down what the other driver or passengers said, and how they acted. Did the other driver apologize? Did you see anyone leave? Throw something away? Trade seats?
Of course, if at all possible, get the contact information for any potential witnesses who might help your car accident claim.
What Counts as Evidence of Injuries
You won’t get far with your claim if you don’t have medical records linking your injuries to the car accident. Tell your medical providers when and how you were injured, and get copies of all medical bills and records.
Your medical records, especially your doctor’s notes, will justify the amount of time you had to miss work because of your injuries. Adjusters will look to see if your lost wages claim makes sense for your type of injury.
Just as important, your medical records provide evidence that your medical treatment is appropriate for your injury type.
Hard costs, called “special damages” are easily calculated by adding up your medical bills, wage statements, and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses.
A dollar amount for “general damages,” better known as “pain and suffering” is harder to justify, because it’s based on your subjective experience. There’s no way for the adjuster to measure your suffering, and they will often assume you’re exaggerating.
Evidence of your special damages can come from your injury diary, where you keep a dated log of your pain levels, emotional distress, sleepless nights, and descriptions of any other ways the injuries are affecting your daily life.
Family, friends, and caregivers can help by providing statements of how they’ve seen you struggle and suffer from pain, embarrassment at needing help to bathe, tears when you couldn’t hold your baby, and so on.
Gathering Proof of Damages
The value of your car accident claim is calculated by adding up your hard costs, like medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses, then adding an additional amount to account for your pain and suffering.
It pays to make sure you gathered evidence of the total cost of your medical treatment and out-of-pocket expenses. Medical bills and receipts should reflect the full cost of treatment before any adjustments for Medicare, Medicaid, or private health insurance.
Get itemized bills for every medical visit or therapy visit. However, beware of “accident doctors” who will run up your medical bills with unnecessary tests and excessive chiropractic or therapy treatments.
Insurance companies are only required to pay reasonable and necessary medical expenses. If the adjuster rejects some of your treatment expenses, you’re stuck paying the bill.
Get receipts for the full cost of medications, crutches, etc., not just your copay.
If you had imaging studies, like X-rays, CT scans, or an MRI, there will be a bill from the facility and a separate bill from the radiologist who interpreted the images. Be sure to ask for both.
Ask your employer for a statement of lost wages. Be sure it includes lost overtime, and how much sick leave or vacation time you had to use because of your injuries.
Replacement services costs include hiring help with child care, yard care, and other activities you can’t do while recovering from your injuries.
Transportation costs include parking fees and mileage or cab fare for medical appointments.
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