You can organize your injury claim documents, bills, and notes like a pro. A complete and organized file will help boost your compensation.
Being organized is always a good idea and can take some of the stress out of a hectic situation, like the aftermath of an accident or injury.
Insurance professionals and personal injury lawyers depend on good organizational skills to be more efficient, save time, and to get positive results in their business.
When it comes to your injury claim, good organizational skills can mean the difference between full compensation or settling for far less.
Here’s how you can organize your injury claim paperwork, notes, and calendar like a pro.
Organizing Your Injury Claim File
A personal injury attorney’s method for creating a case file is a good model to follow. An effective injury attorney keeps all the paperwork for each case in a file folder or three-ring binder. Each case file has several sections for different kinds 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, but if not, you can purchase them separately. You will designate a section of the folder for each category of documentation related to your injury claim.
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 will be a critical tool that contains sensitive personal and financial information.
With an organized injury claim file, you’ll be able to instantly access any document you need when speaking with an insurance claim adjuster or your attorney.
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.
Your file should contain at least eight labeled sections, plus room for a calendar.
The most commonly used claim file sections are:
- Medical Bills
- Medical Records
- Property Damage
- Wage Verification
- Reports and Witnesses
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.
Injury Claim File Contents
Never hand your 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.
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.
This part of your file might include:
- Your notification letter to the at-fault party and insurance company
- The insurance company’s reservation of rights letter
- Any letter of protection sent to medical providers
- All correspondence to and from the adjuster
- Your demand letter
- Any other correspondence or notices
Medical and Mental Health Care Bills
This section is where you’ll include every bill from every medical provider in date order. This section includes bills from chiropractors, therapists, and all other health 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 care 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.
Don’t miss gathering 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 more.
- 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 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.
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 related to your injury.
Include a date-order listing of every medical procedure and treatment related to your injury, such as:
- Admitting charts
- Doctors’ and nurses’ notes
- Exam and test results
- Doctors’ medical narratives
- Doctor’s orders for physical therapy or rehab
- Physical therapy and rehab progress notes
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.
Include receipts or estimates for damaged personal items like eyeglasses, cell phones, and clothing.
This part of the file folder won’t be very thick, but the contents are important. Place the letter from your employer, and any other verification of your lost wages and compensation in this section.
Reports and Witness Information
Include contact information for any witnesses and copies of their written statements here. If you have more than a few witnesses, you can put them in alphabetical order.
If you were in a car accident, request a copy of the police report for your claim file.
If you were injured at work, or while at a business like a store or a restaurant, you can request a copy of the incident report.
Photographs and Video
Have all your digital photographs printed in color using good quality paper. Keep the digital copies of video and photographs 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.
Put a note in the file if you or anyone else has video of the incident (on your cell phone or a security camera, for instance).
Your Written Notes
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 can provide evidence of the pain and suffering you’ve experienced because of your injuries.
Make an entry each time you speak with the adjuster, a witness, medical provider, employer, and more.
Start a new set of pages to keep track of settlement offers and counteroffers as the negotiation progresses.
Example: Taking Notes During the Claims Process
at 3:15 p.m.
at 10:15 a.m.
at 9:25 a.m.
at 1:25 p.m.
Keeping an 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 personal injury attorney can do for you.
Video: Organize Your Injury Claim Paperwork
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