Use this free injury claim file checklist and guide to ensure you’ve gathered everything you need to make a strong insurance claim.
When you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you have the legal right to seek compensation for your injuries. However, the at-fault party’s insurance company won’t just hand over a check.
The burden is always on the victim to prove the at-fault party was negligent, and the negligence resulted in physical injuries and other damages.
Whether you’re handling your own claim or hiring an attorney to represent you, a complete and organized claim file can help you build a strong and convincing case. Use this free Injury Claim File Checklist to organize your critical paperwork and evidence.
Click on the image below to download the PDF checklist:
How to Use Your Injury Claim File Checklist
Create your injury claim file by using a large file box with lots of file folders, or you might like to use one or more wide three-ring binders with tabbed dividers and pocket pages.
Label your sections clearly for correspondence, medical bills, and so on.
The front page of your file should list the accident date, the name and contact information for the at-fault party, the at-fault party’s insurance company, and the claim number. Include contact information for the representative or adjusters handling your claim for the insurance company.
It’s handy to keep a telephone log in the front of your file. Log the date, time, person’s name who called, and a summary of the conversation. Also track the date, time, telephone number, extension, and the name of anyone you call, with a brief summary of the conversation, even if you had to leave a message.
Keep your injury claim file in a safe and private place. Never hand your file over to the adjuster. Make copies of documents and photographs and needed by the insurance company.
Keeping Track of Correspondence
Letters, forms, and emails related to your injury claim are easier to find and review when placed in date order, from the oldest to newest. The most recent communication should always be on top.
When you get a letter from the insurance company, make a small note in the top corner of the date you actually received the letter. Sometimes mail delivery is slow, and sometimes the insurance company generates a letter that isn’t taken to the post office for several days. The received date can be critical, especially if the letter has a deadline for response.
Make a file copy of letters that you send, such as your notification of intent to file a claim, demand letter, and letters enclosing copies of medical bills. Send your correspondence to the insurance company via certified mail, return receipt requested. When you get the “green card” back that verifies the company received your letter, attach the green card to the file copy of the letter.
Print out hard copies of emails you get from the adjuster or any other injury-related emails. When you send emails to the insurance company, it’s a good practice to cc yourself and print out the cc’d copy for your records. The cc’d copy proves your email was actually sent.
Organizing Bills and Records
Medical bills form the foundation for calculating personal injury compensation. You’ll need to collect detailed bills for every aspect of medical care from the ambulance through physical therapy. The bills should reflect the full cost of your medical treatment, before any offsets for health insurance.
Some medical services, like emergency room visits and imaging tests, generate more than one bill. For example, you’ll get an X-ray bill from the facility where you had the X-ray taken. Then you’ll get a separate bill from the radiologist who “read” the X-ray. File related bills together based on the date of the service.
Similarly, retain good copies of all receipts for medications, bandages, and medical equipment. You’ll need bills reflecting the full cost, even if your health care insurance covered most or all of the expense.
File your medical bills separately from your medical records, to make it easier to add them up when the time comes.
Medical records are equally important to the success of your claim. Your doctor’s notes and test reports help link your injuries to the accident, and provide evidence of the scope of your injuries.
While you will also need a lost wages statement from your employer and a work slip from your medical provider, your doctor’s notes will verify that the time you missed from work was legitimate and directly due to your injuries.
As with correspondence, file your bills and records from oldest to newest. If you prefer, you can first group bills and records by provider, then by date.
Reports and Witness Information
Police crash reports can provide compelling evidence of someone else’s fault for your injuries. Always get a copy of the police report for your car accident claim file. Most insurance adjusters put a lot of weight on police reports, given that the responding officer is unbiased and has been trained in accident investigation.
Slip and fall accidents that happen in a store, restaurant, or other public location often result in an incident report. The incident report helps link your injuries to the event.
You might not be able to get a copy of a store’s incident reports without legal help. If the place where you fell did not fill out an incident report, you can create your own report. Put a signed copy of the report in your file.
Try to get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed your injury as it occurred. Also file copies of any written witness statements that may help support your insurance claim.
Videos and Photographic Evidence
If you can take pictures without worsening your injuries, take as many as possible around the scene. In a slip and fall claim, try to get close-up pictures of the wet floor or other cause of your slip or trip. After a car accident, try to get close-up and distance shots of the vehicles before they are moved.
Take pictures of your injuries as soon as possible after the incident, and throughout your recovery period. Photos of your torn and bloodied clothing can be impactful.
Never alter or enhance photographs. Print out copies of each photograph for your file, with dates and descriptions on the back. Videos can be downloaded to a disc or flash drive, labeled, and kept in a pocket of your file.
Compiling Your Notes
As soon as possible after your injuries, write out detailed notes about everything you can recall leading up to the incident, how your injuries occurred, and what happened afterward. Put a signed and dated copy of these notes in your claim file.
Medical bills and a lost wage statement will back up your compensation demand for hard costs. However, getting the adjuster to pay a fair amount to compensate for your pain and suffering can be challenging.
Making daily notes in an injury diary is an effective way to document physical pain levels, the emotional impact of injury-imposed limitations, and how the injuries have negatively impacted your life. Your diary will become an important part of your injury claim file.
If you negotiate your own injury claim, you’ll want to make dated notes about each round of negotiations, especially settlement offers, counteroffers, and the adjuster’s arguments against your position.
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