Car Accident Claim Notes Checklist and Guide

Your notes about a car accident and what happened afterward can strengthen your injury claim. Use this guide to capture important details.

Car accidents happen fast, and even minor collisions can be a shock. When you’ve been injured in a traffic accident, you expect the at-fault driver to pay for your damages. That usually means dealing with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.

Even when accident evidence, like the police report, makes the at-fault driver’s liability clear, you still have to prove the scope of your damages to the insurance adjuster.

Hard costs are easy enough to prove by gathering medical bills, receipts, and wage loss statements. But if you want to get the full settlement you deserve, you’ll also need to support your demand for pain and suffering compensation. That’s where your claim notes can make a difference.

Click on the image below to download the PDF Notes Guide:

Using This Car Accident Claim Notes Guide

Whether you decide to hire an attorney, or handle your accident claim yourself, your notes about the accident can boost the strength of your settlement demand.

Use this guide to help you capture all the important details of the accident, your injuries, and your recovery. Your car accident notes will be an important part of your injury claim file.

Details About the Accident

As soon as possible after the crash, write down everything you remember about the moments before the accident and what happened immediately after the crash.

Start with the date, time, and location of the accident. Describe the vehicles involved in the accident, and the driver’s names and information. Were the headlights or turn signals in use? Did you see the other driver on the phone? Were they speeding or driving erratically?

About you: Note if you were wearing a seatbelt, alone in the car, or carrying children, a pet, or other passengers.

The environment: What were the weather and road conditions like?  Describe the visibility: fog, blinding sunlight, or a dark, cloudy night.

The crash: Did you hear tires squealing? Did you try to avoid the accident? Was there no time for you to react? What happened to your head and body? What sensations do you recall? Did the airbags deploy?

After the accident: What did the other driver or passenger do or say after the crash? Did you smell alcohol or marijuana? Did anyone from the other car throw something out or leave the scene? Who called for help? Did you see or speak to any witnesses?

Where you conscious? In terrible pain? Were children crying? Did paramedics have to use the jaws of life to get you out of the wreckage? What treatment did you get at the scene?

Don’t try to analyze as you write. Just get it all down while it’s fresh in your mind. Capture your memory of everything you saw, heard, and even smelled. Include your impressions of the other driver’s behavior and anything else that struck you as odd or suspicious, like occupants in the other car changing seats before the police arrived.

Your recollections may uncover important facts in support of your injury claim. You not only want to show how the at-fault driver caused the crash, but also make clear that you did nothing to contribute to your injuries.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes

If you were taken from the scene by ambulance, write down the name of the ambulance service, the hospital you were taken to, and some notes about your experience with the paramedics. Were you bleeding? In pain? Having trouble breathing? Unconscious?

Take notes throughout your recovery. If you did not have to be taken by ambulance, note where you were treated after the accident.

Make a list of all your medical care providers, including name, specialty, and address. It’s a good idea to keep track of your medical appointment dates, too.

Describe all your injuries in detail. Try to include the medical term for the body part and injury type. Reference tests like X-rays or CT scans which the doctor used to diagnose your injuries.

Also list your treatments, including prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, and necessary medical supplies and equipment, like bandages, crutches, shower chair, and so on.

Making Injury Diary Notes

You deserve to be compensated for all your damages after a car accident.

It’s one thing to gather evidence in support of your economic damages, like medical bills, lost wages, and replacement services. Most insurance adjusters will pay for reasonable and necessary medical treatment without argument.

But getting fair compensation for your non-economic damages – generally called “pain and suffering” – is a lot more difficult.  There is no invoice or receipt to justify the cost of your suffering, so it’s a subjective valuation.

This is where an injury diary can significantly boost the amount of your total compensation. Most adjusters are willing to pay a nominal amount on top of your economic damages. But, to get pain and suffering compensation two or three times the amount of your hard costs, you’ll have to be pretty convincing.

From the first day you begin recovering at home, make dated entries in your diary about your physical pain levels. Be specific. Describe where and how it hurts. Burning, twisting, searing, and throbbing are words often used to describe pain.

Does the pain keep you from sleeping? Do you lay awake at night agonizing over your inability to go to work or take care of your family? Do pain meds upset your stomach or cause constipation?

It’s important to note how the injuries are impacting your activities of daily living. Describe mobility limitations that keep you from taking care of yourself, your family, or your pets.

If you need help with meals, dressing, bathing, toileting, or personal care, write it down, including how it makes you feel. Who is helping you? Are you frustrated or embarrassed?

Be sure to note medical visits and treatments in your diary, including difficulties with transportation, painful treatments, and your progress. If you suffered facial or body scarring, express your feelings about your self-image.

A bad car accident takes an emotional toll. Use descriptive language to note in detail your fears about getting in a car, your nightmares since the crash, or your heartbreak at not being able to lift or carry your crying toddler.

Your notes will enable you to paint a compelling picture of the devastating effects the car accident has had on your life.

Most adjusters are willing to pay more to settle your claim than to risk having a credible and convincing injury victim file a lawsuit. The last thing an adjuster wants is a jury to hear a vivid account of your suffering caused by a negligent driver.