How To Document Your Car Accident Case
When involved in a car accident, it is important to document everything important to your claim. The reason for this is that in California the burden of proof for many issues is on the claimant or plaintiff.
The claimant is the title given to the person injured and damaged in a case who makes a claim, usually against the other person’s insurance company.
The claim may also be against your own insurance company or a company or a corporation so for your own protection please do NOT give any statements or information to anyone before checking with your own attorney.
The plaintiff is the title given to the same person after a lawsuit or complaint has been filed with the Court. Although every case is different and for each specific case you should consult with an attorney (and you may contact us now for a FREE consultation), the following are some general things to guide you to do to document what is needed for most cases:
- A. THINGS TO DO TO DOCUMENT WHAT HAPPENED AT THE ACCIDENT COLLISION SCENE
- Take photos and videos of all vehicles and objects involved and or damaged in the collision or incident
- Take photos and videos of the entire scene, including everything damaged, all traffic control devices (including traffic signals and stop signs), cross walks, street signs and addresses, and any other landmarks
- Take photos and videos of all visible injuries, including of you and any of your passengers
- Take photos and videos of all vehicle license plates, both front and rear of each vehicle
- Take photos and videos of all signs or writings on all vehicles
- Take photos of all drivers and their driver’s licenses, vehicle registration and vehicle ownership certificates, insurance identification cards, etc. for all drivers and vehicles involved in the incident
- Write down all information from all driver’s licenses, vehicle registration and vehicle ownership certificates, and insurance identification cards for all drivers and vehicles involved in the incident in case the photos taken are not clear or later available
- For all passengers in other vehicles, request their names, phone numbers, email addresses, home and work addresses
- For any witnesses, obtain their names, phone numbers, email addresses, home and work addresses and any other contact information available, including their driver’s licenses or California ID cards
- If any police arrive at the scene, obtain their contact information, including their names, badge numbers, the name and address of the station they work out of, and how and where to request a copy of their police report, often called a Traffic Collision Report
- If any other emergency personnel arrives at the scene of the incident, such as paramedics, ambulances, tow trucks, etc., obtain their contact information
- Take photos and videos of all emergency vehicles
- Write down what occurred to cause this collision or incident, and what occurred at the scene after the collision occurred
- There are many other things to do other than documenting what occurred when involved in a car accident. For some of the most important things to do, please refer to our Car Accident Advice Section
- B. THINGS TO DO TO DOCUMENT WHAT OCCURS AFTER LEAVING THE COLLISION ACCIDENT SCENE
- Take photos and videos of any of your visible injuries, including any bruises, cuts, bandages, braces, crutches and scars. Continue to do this until healed.
- Take photos and videos of any of your passengers’ visible injuries, etc.
- Take photos and videos of any medical equipment, including hospital rooms, beds and devices; any wheel chairs; crutches; braces; etc. Take photos and videos of you actually using these devices, if possible.
- Keep a diary or log of all injuries, pains, inconveniences and changes in your life activities caused by this incident. Pain can often be recorded on a 0-10 pain scale. Life activities include going to work, school, exercising, sports, hobbies, chores, companionship, and other activities. At first do it daily, then whenever anything new or any changes occur. Your attorney can provide more information how to do that – so ask your attorney
- Keep a summary or log of all doctors, dentists, psychologists, counselors, therapists, and other health care professionals you see, including full name, specialty, dates and approximately how long travel takes and how long the health care visit took. Also note the care and treatment received and for which body parts.
- Keep a summary or log of all time missed from work, as well as any reduced duties while at work. Be sure your boss or supervisor know about your injuries and incident because when you are done treating your attorney will want their statement(s) verifying all time missed and or reduced duties from this incident, any overtime lost, any benefits used or lost, promotions lost or delayed, etc.
- If you are a student, keep a summary or log of all time missed from school and studies, as well as how this incident affected your ability to do your school work, take exams, grades, etc.
- If you have any photos or videos showing you doing activities you did before the incident that you cannot or could not do after the incident, whether permanently or a limited time, gather them and provide them to your attorney
- Save all bills, receipts, documents and other evidence relating to this incident, including property damage estimates, bills and payments; rental car receipts and other papers; proof of time without any vehicle to prove loss of use; proof of diminished value of any repaired vehicle post repairs; emergency room, hospital, doctor, therapy and other health care records, reports and bills; prescriptions and prescription and medication containers (save all containers and packaging); home nursing care; extra housecleaning services needed but not needed before the incident; mileage and any other travel expenses related to this incident (including using ride share companies such as Uber, Lyft, etc.); any other damages, expenses and losses from this collision or incident; etc. and provide them to your attorney when you complete treatment or when requested, which occurs first.
- There are many other things to do for your own protection other than documenting what occurs after leaving the scene of the car accident. For some of the most important things to do after leaving the car accident site, please refer to our Car Accident Advice Section