Key Information to Collect After Your Car Accident in Virginia
After a car crash there are certain documents, records, and important pieces of evidence you must collect to bring a successful insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit in Virginia. Without supportive documentary evidence you will have a difficult time convincing the insurance company, judge, or jury that you should be compensated fully for your injuries and damages.
Here is an example of why you need to have documentation to support your allegations after a car accident. Let’s say that two employees come to you and ask for a raise. The first comes in and says that he wants more money because he said so. The other comes in and says he wants more money, but then hands you several pages of documents explaining the positive impact that he’s had on your business. You’ll probably give the second employee the raise.
The same is true when negotiating an insurance settlement after a car accident. You are more likely to receive fair compensation for your wage loss, medical expenses, pain, and suffering if you present a demand letter that includes your medical reports, the police report, supportive opinion statements from your medical providers, billing information showing how much your treatment cost, and a wage loss verification letter from your employer. If you’re forced to file a personal injury lawsuit because the insurance company won’t treat you fairly, you can use these documents to establish who was at fault for the car accident and to prove your damages.
Here are the top 5 items to gather after your car accident so that you can get a favorable resolution.
1. Police Report, Also Called the Crash Report
Call 911 after your car accident – even if you think it was a minor fender bender. A police officer will come to the accident scene and prepare a police report after interviewing the drivers and witnesses.
This report will include information that is important to your insurance claim and potential personal injury lawsuit. Often the police report will contain statements identifying who was at fault for the accident, all possible causes of the accident, and whether any driver violated a traffic law. Though the police report is not binding on the parties, it is a useful piece of information to have when prosecuting your car accident claim.
The Virginia Department Motor of Vehicles keeps copies of all accident reports. And the law enforcement agency whose officer completed the report should have a copy also. To get a copy of the police report after your car accident contact the agency and give them the following information:
- Date and location of the accident (street address or intersection where it happened)
- The names of the drivers involved in the accident
- The name and badge number of the police officer who investigated the accident and completed the report.
If you’re having difficulty obtaining a copy of the police report, a car accident attorney Richmond VA can help.
2. Vehicle Damage Estimates
Though accidents that appear minor to the eye can cause serious, catastrophic injuries, insurance companies, judges, and juries are usually more willing to compensate an injury victim when there was severe damage to the vehicle.
The best way to show the extent of your property damage is through photographs, video, and a vehicle damage estimate from a local mechanic. We recommend that you get multiple repair estimates from different auto mechanics and body repair shops. If your vehicle was totaled or damaged beyond use, you can use the Kelley Blue Book value to determine the property damage value.
3. Medical Records
Medical records and reports are the backbone of any personal injury claim. If you received medical care after your car accident, get copies of all your records and billing information. This includes office visit notes, phone notes, all diagnoses given, prescription medications, and any other statements offered by a healthcare provider.
Keep your records in a file organized in chronological order. Here is a suggestion for organizing your medical record file:
- Emergency medical services. Most ambulance providers, if not all, make a record of what you were like when they arrived at the scene and what treatment was given. You will need to request these records from either the private company that transported you or the town, city, or county where your accident happened if they provided the emergency service.
- Services provided in an emergency room. This often includes emergency surgery, x-rays, and stitches.
- Hospital admissions.
- Treatment provided by your primary care doctor.
- Treatment provided by any specialists, including orthopedists and neurosurgeons, you were referred to.
- Prescriptions filled by your pharmacy.
- Chiropractic care.
- Psychiatric care.
- Physical therapy.
- Occupational therapy.
Keeping a well organized file will save you time and money.
4. Car Accident Symptom Journal
I ask my workers compensation, Social Security Disability, and car accident clients to keep a journal of their statements. For accident victims this journal should include a detailed description of the accident soon after it happened, as well as all communication with insurance adjusters, witnesses, and other parties. Further, write down your symptoms and how you feel day to day. This will help your personal injury lawyer prepare your pain and suffering at mediation or trial in a way that will help you receive fair compensation.
5. Employment Records
Wage loss and future loss of earning capacity are key factors in determining damages after a car wreck. If you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit after your car wreck you must be able to show proof of wage loss. This is done by obtaining direct deposit records, bank statements, paycheck stubs, and any other documents that can show the days you missed from work and the amount or wages you’ve lost.
Talk to an injury attorney
Corey Pollard represents persons injured in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, workplace accidents, and truck accidents in personal injury claims. To discuss your legal rights call or e-mail us today.