Types of Documents You’ll Need for a Successful Personal Injury Claim

Learn more about the personal injury documents you’ll need to prove the at-fault party’s liability and support your demand for compensation.

When you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for your damages from the at-fault party or their insurance company. However, the burden is on you to establish the other party’s fault and prove the scope and cost of your injuries.

No matter if you were in a car crash, slip and fall, or some other type of accident, here’s a list of the most common documents needed to win a personal injury claim.

Documents to Win a Personal Injury Claim:

  1. Correspondence and Notices
  2. Medical Diagnosis and Treatment Bills
  3. Medical Treatment Records and Reports
  4. Property Damage Bills and Records
  5. Lost Income and Wage Verification
  6. Accident Reports and Witness Statements
  7. Photographs and Video Evidence
  8. Written Notes and Logs
  9. Injury Claim Calendar

Bonus: Organizing Your Injury Claim File

1. Correspondence and Notices

Your correspondence file will include copies of any letters or notices between you and the insurance company, the at-fault person or business, and any attorneys. Your correspondence section should also include printed-out copies of email communications.

File all correspondence in date order, with the most recent at the front and oldest at the back.

Correspondence might include:

  • Your notification letter to the at-fault party and insurance company
  • Claim numbers, policy numbers, and other insurance information
  • Any letter of protection sent to medical providers
  • All correspondence to and from the adjuster
  • Your demand letter
  • Any other correspondence or notices
  • A retention letter from your personal injury lawyer

2. Medical Diagnosis and Treatment Bills

This section is where you’ll include every bill from every medical provider in date order. Use this handy log sheet for tracking and requesting medical bills and records.

This section includes bills from hospitals, physicians, therapists, and all other medical care providers. Begin with the ambulance bill, if applicable, and continue with every other bill right up to the present day.

The amount you can expect for personal injury compensation is primarily based on the total of your medical bills, so it’s critical to include proof of every single expense in your claim file.

Keep in mind that your health insurance provider usually has the right to put a medical lien against your injury settlement to recover what they paid out on your behalf, so make sure your settlement covers everything.

Gather medical bills for:

  • Dental treatment needed from the accident.
  • Mental health services related to the accident.
  • Hospital and doctor bills: The hospital should issue an itemized bill for the emergency room, in-patient room and supplies, and for any surgeries. You must also gather separate bills for each physician who treats you, like the ER doctor, orthopedist, surgeon, and others.
  • Prescription medication: Ask your pharmacist for a copy of the total cost of the medication, not just your insurance co-pay.
  • Medical devices: Get receipts for the full cost of items like crutches, boots, or braces used for broken bones, shower chairs, portable commodes, and any other devices covered by insurance.
  • Imaging studies: There are usually two bills for X-rays, MRI, and CT scans; one for the facility where the images were taken and a separate bill for the physician who interpreted the results.
  • Replacement services: These include costs for child care, lawn care, or housekeeping while you recovered from your injuries.

Also include receipts for out-of-pocket medications, bandages, and other medical expenses, as well as any transportation expenses or parking fees for medical appointments.

3. Medical Treatment Records and Reports

Medical records are the documents that detail your injuries and treatment. Your medical records connect your injuries to the at-fault party and prove the medical necessity of your health care expenses.

You will have to make a written request for your medical records. Request records of every medical procedure and treatment related to your injury.

Medical records include:

  • Hospital charts
  • Doctors’ and nurses’ notes
  • Exam and diagnostic test results
  • Doctors’ medical narratives
  • Doctor’s orders for physical therapy or rehab
  • Physical therapy and rehab progress notes

The medical provider may require you to use one of their HIPAA-compliant forms to request copies of your medical records and bills. If not, you can download this medical record request template, fill in the blanks, and print the letter.

4. Property Damage Bills and Records

This section is for collecting all information related to your property damage.

In a car accident, this might include body shop estimates for repairs, towing bills, and out-of-pocket costs for a rental vehicle while yours was in the shop. In a slip and fall, this might include receipts or estimates for torn or bloodied clothing, or damaged personal items like cell phones or eyeglasses.

5. Lost Income and Wage Verification

This part of the file folder won’t be very thick, but the contents are important. Place the letter from your employer, pay stubs, and any other verification of your lost wages and compensation in this section.

It’s easy to fill out our free wage information request form and send it to your employer.

Be sure to have a copy of your doctor’s records detailing why you couldn’t work after your injury.

Wage loss documents for a self-employed worker include:

  • Profit and loss statements
  • Past year tax returns
  • Client correspondence describing lost income opportunities

6. Accident Reports and Witness Statements

This section should have contact information for any witnesses and copies of their written statements. If you have more than a few witnesses, you can put them in alphabetical order.

If you were in a motor vehicle accident, request a copy of the police report for your claim file.

If you were injured in a slip and fall at a business, like a store or a restaurant, you can request a copy of the incident report.

7. Photographs and Video Evidence

Print hard copies of photographs in color using good quality paper. Keep the digital copies of photos and video safe and put the paper copies in your claim file.

Include photos of your injuries taken when they happened and throughout your recovery. On the back of each photo, write the date it was taken, who took it, and what the picture represents.

Never alter or enhance photographic evidence, even if you’re only trying to make it clearer. It only takes one photoshopped image to ruin your credibility and sink your injury claim.

Put a note in the file if you or anyone else has video of the incident. For example, surveillance camera footage of your slip and fall in a store.

8. Written Notes and Logs

An important part of building your claim file is taking lots of notes. Good notes remind you what was said during telephone calls, track the progress of your claim, and provide evidence of the pain and suffering you’ve experienced because of your injuries.

Keep an injury diary with dated entries describing your pain levels, sleep disturbances, and mobility problems. Note when you needed help with bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and other activities of daily living. Write down how that made you feel, if you were embarrassed, frustrated, or sad.

Make an entry each time you speak with the adjuster, a witness, medical provider, employer, or anyone else related to the incident.

Start a new set of pages or use a claims negotiation checklist to keep track of settlement offers and counteroffers as the negotiation progresses.

9. Injury Claim Calendar

Keep a separate calendar for your injury claim and check it every day. Each of your medical appointments and therapy dates should be on your calendar. You’ll be able to look back at a glance to refresh your memory of events following your injury.

Make an entry on dates you agreed to contact the adjuster and dates the adjuster agreed to contact you. Your calendar will help you hold the adjuster accountable for their commitments.

It’s up to you to know the statute of limitations date for your injury claim. If you haven’t settled your claim or filed a lawsuit before the statutory deadline, you’ll lose your right to seek any compensation, no matter how badly you were injured.

The insurance company is not obligated to help you settle your claim or warn you before the statute runs out. They know if you haven’t settled before the deadline, they win.

Don’t wait until the deadline is looming and the evidence is cold before contacting a personal injury attorney for help. Most attorneys won’t charge for the initial consultation. You’re already organized, so grab your injury claim file and find out what a skilled attorney can do for you.

Organizing Your Injury Claim File

If you decide to handle your own injury claim, the above method for setting up a personal injury case file is a good model to follow. Legal professionals keep all the paperwork for each case in a file folder or three-ring binder. Each case file has several sections for different types of documents, lists, notes, and a calendar.

The folder-style case file is easy and economical to set up. Begin with a large accordion-style folder, the kind with lots of dividers inside. Each section should have a label. You will designate a section of the folder for each category of documentation related to your injury claim.

The front of your file should have your full name, the date of your injury, the name and contact information for the insurance company, and your claim number for easy reference. For privacy, you might not want to have personal information written on the outside of your file.

Get the type of accordion file that can be closed and held shut with a fastener or attached elastic band. Spending a few dollars in preparation for the settlement process is well worth the money.

Keep your claim file safe and secure. Your file is a critical tool that contains sensitive personal and financial information.

With an organized file, you’ll be able to instantly access any document you need when speaking with an insurance adjuster. The entire personal injury claim process will go more smoothly if you’re well organized.

You also want to know if you’re missing a piece of important information. A well-organized file will help expose any gaps in your documentation.

You can use our Injury Claim File Checklist to help make sure you’ve included everything you need.

Never hand your original claim file over to an insurance adjuster. Make copies of your paperwork as needed to share with the insurance company or your attorney. Keep the originals of each document for your files.

You have the right to consult an attorney at any point in the claims process. Most accident lawyers offer a free consultation to injured victims. Bring your claim file to the consultation to help the lawyer give you a good case evaluation.

Charles R. Gueli, Esq. is a personal injury attorney with over 20 years of legal experience. He’s admitted to the NY State Bar, and been named a Super Lawyer for the NY Metro area, an exclusive honor awarded to the top five percent of attorneys. Charles has worked extensively in the areas of auto accidents,... Read More >>