Claiming insurance after a car accident can be a daunting process. In addition to dealing with the emotional and physical repercussions of the accident itself, you also need to keep a level-headed legal mindset, and actively participate in a system that can be confusing and full of legal jargon that feels like it was designed to keep you unaware. The following will break down the different documents you might need in your car accident case.
If emergency professionals attended the scene of your accident there will almost certainly be an accident report or police report which you will be able to access within a few days of the incident. These reports will contain the basic information about the accident including the date, location, time, witnesses present, and sometimes a diagram of the accident and the driver’s insurance information.
As a side note, within a police report, it will usually be indicated if someone involved was given a ticket related to the accident. If this is the case, the ticket should also be included as it will assist with proving fault within a case. The experts of Edwards & Patterson law cite the police report and its contaminants as one of the major factors in the determination of fault in an accident case. Because those experiencing accidents are often very emotionally charged, the information provided by an objective third party can be incredibly useful in a case.
If there are witnesses to an accident, police or emergency reports often collect statements from them. Sometimes these are also compiled by insurance companies. Sometimes these statements are recorded on cell phones or other recording devices.
Photographs or Videos
Not every accident has photographic evidence, but many times people involved in the accident, emergency responders, insurance companies, tow truck drivers, and mechanics may have taken photos or videos. If any photos were taken by you, these will be helpful in your case. Sometimes there is third-party surveillance footage as well which can be secured for the case. An experienced car accident lawyer can help preserve vital evidence by writing a spoliation letter to the relevant parties.
Medical Records and Bills
Medical records will indicate that you suffered injury or harm from an accident and will detail the treatment you have sought (or are still seeking) after the incident. These can be quite lengthy (but the more detailed, the better), and can sometimes be expensive to retrieve. This being said, they are absolutely necessary. Photographs of injuries will also fit into this category of documentation.
Medical bills will show how much the aforementioned medical treatment has cost you. Try to keep as many receipts and bills related to your treatment as you can. Even things like the cost of your family coming to visit you in the hospital, their accommodations, the price of daycare or babysitting while you were being treated.
In addition to the records and bills, you will likely need to provide your health insurance card, Medicare card, or Medicaid card. You might want to take a photo of the card or make a copy of it so that your attorney can use this information when and where they need it, but you can keep the hard copy on your person.
Vehicle Damage Estimates and Proof of Vehicle Value
If your vehicle was damaged by the incident, you are likely to seek the cost of repairs. In order to know how much to request, you will have to prove how much those repairs will cost and also, sometimes, the cash value of your vehicle immediately before the accident. An auto mechanic or auto body shop can provide these estimates for you.
Work Schedule For Time Missed
If you, or someone who was caring for you, had to take any time off of work, keep a detailed record of the days missed and how much money would have been brought home had they not been missed. Often you will need to provide proof, so having a boss or supervisor outline the days missed and provide an estimate of wages lost out on can be beneficial.
Car Insurance Policy
Your attorney will find this particularly helpful as it will detail how much coverage you have if you claim and what any exclusions to your coverage might be. If you don’t have a hard copy of your car insurance policy, you should be able to access a copy online from your insurance provider easily.
This one certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, but we live in an increasingly digital world and so there are sometimes pieces of additional information that come in digital form. If a witness or other party posted about the incident on social media, a screenshot will do. The “duty to preserve evidence” applies to social media the same as other evidence. If a witness or other party emailed you, texted you, called you…etc, these exchanges can be documented and included here. You may also be required to produce phone records to show that you were not using your device during the time of the accident.
There you have it, the crucial pieces of documentation that you will need in a car accident insurance case. Of course, every case is different and your attorney may ask for additional things not provided on this list depending on your particular scenario and needs.