Knowing what to do after you or a loved one is involved in a car accident can be immensely stressful, but as with all of life’s emergencies, keeping a cool head and following a basic crisis plan can save your life. After a car accident, it’s crucial to make sure everyone gets the medical care they need as well as exchange insurance information. In addition to those two things, there are other facts that should be documented and accounted for.
This information will be needed later during insurance negotiations and may be needed if a legal case is filed for any reason. If you feel you weren’t at fault for the accident or that there may be issues when settling the insurance claim, it becomes even more important to document this information. A successful legal case requires the right documentation on hand. Here are eight different ways you should thoroughly document everything that happens after a car accident:
Witness Contact Information
In addition to gathering the contact and insurance information from anyone that was involved in the accident, it’s a good idea to speak to any witnesses who saw the accident and ask if they would be willing to give you their contact information. If they are willing to, also have them write down an account of what they saw happen. Having a witness on your side can be a valuable asset in any court case. Even if you end up not using that person as a witness, at least you’ll have their information available.
Photos of the Car
Among all types of evidence, photographs often have the most impact during a legal case. In today’s era of smartphones, there’s simply no excuse to not take plenty of pictures after an accident occurs. Take photographs of your damaged car from multiple angles (inside and outside) as well as photographs of the street, any skid marks, any visible debris on the road that may have contributed to the accident, and the license plates of other vehicles that were involved.
It may also be a good idea to take pictures of any nearby street signs or identifying landmarks. This will help you remember exactly where the accident occurred and how it happened later on.
Photos of Your Injuries
In addition to photographs of your car and the accident scene, it’s also crucial to take pictures of any injuries sustained during the accident. These are often necessary in court due to the fact that court dates can take place weeks after injuries have begun to recover. Along with pictures of the injuries while they’re at their worst, it’s a good idea to take multiple pictures as the injuries heal, providing evidence of the healing process and how long each step took.
Account of Lost Wages/Days Off Work
Keep extremely thorough records of how much time you take off work after the accident occurred and why you took those days off. Remember to include time off for doctor’s appointments or hospital stays. In addition to keeping track of the hours and days, make sure to calculate how much money this time off cost you as far as wages are concerned. When filing a lawsuit, this information is what will help you earn the legal compensation you deserve.
Mileage to/from Appointments
In addition to keeping track of your lost wages and time spent away from work, you’ll want to keep track of how often you went to doctor’s appointments during your recovery, where those appointments were held, and the mileage to and from those appointments. Travel expenses can add up over time, especially when you’re already having to take time off work. You’re more than entitled to receive compensation to make up for travel expenses which are necessary for a healthy recovery.
Keep a copy of all medical documentation you receive, including copies of new prescriptions, discharge papers, and any doctor’s evaluations. You will also generally need to ask for a copy of your official medical records at some point, including copies of any medical imaging performed.
Of notable importance, make sure to keep a list of all new prescriptions you were prescribed as well as the names and contact information for every doctor you visited. Your car accident attorney may ask for this information early on in your case.
In addition to thorough medical documentation, make sure to keep track of any and all medical bills. Keep copies of every bill you receive, even those that may be covered by your insurance. One other thing to keep track of is any medical equipment you end up having to pay for. This can include prescriptions not covered by your insurance, medical copayments, rental equipment, or any type of special at-home care equipment like bath chairs, transport devices, etc.
Duties Under Duress
In the legal world, there’s a term known as “duties under duress” which applies to cases involving automobile accidents. The term refers to typical duties of one’s life that could be done during the recovery period, but only with difficulty as a result of the injuries sustained during the accident. Make note of any pain or difficulty felt or experienced when performing the following activities: all home chores, work tasks, driving, walking, sleeping, lifting, hobbies, sports, education, etc.
Document these notes with as many details as possible. Make note of how long any pain/increased difficulty lasted, the severity of any pain levels, and the specifics of the difficulties experienced. Did you feel pain and stiffness or just stiffness? Don’t leave any detail undocumented.
Remembering and thoroughly documenting details is key during any legal case, especially during a case involving a car accident. The more details you are able to provide, the greater your chances are of success. Along with all the necessary above details and documentation, having a compassionate, professional attorney who understands your case and your specific needs is also vital. A personal injury lawyer like Todd W. Burris will be able to help you navigate each step, ensuring everything is done to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our office in Lexington, KY to find out how the right car accident attorney can help you get back on your feet again.