Stay Prepared_ Organizing Your Documents After an Accident

Have you been hurt in a Chicago car accident someone else caused? As frustrating and painful as this experience can be, understanding your legal rights is essential now. You may be eligible for financial compensation, which you can claim by organizing documents and filing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver.

The more documentation you can provide substantiating your claim, the more compensation you could potentially recover. An insurance claim document organization system can help you avoid losing track of important materials.

Accident Document Checklist: Documents to Hold Onto After an Accident

Organizing documents after an accident is critically important, but the process may differ on a case-by-case basis. The specific types of documents you may need to keep copies of can vary depending on the nature of the incident. Depending on the circumstances, documenting auto accident evidence might involve any of the following evidence:

  • Medical bills
  • Medical records (such as doctor notes, diagnostic test results, etc.)
  • Receipts for healthcare-related expenses (such as medical equipment, travel to medical appointments, etc.)
  • Invoices for repair work
  • Documents with the insurance and contact information of all other parties involved in the wreck
  • Notes with the names and contact information of any witnesses
  • Pictures of the crash scene from multiple angles
  • Pictures of any visual signs of your injuries
  • Pay stubs
  • Documentation of previous work benefits, promotions, bonuses, etc.
  • Correspondence with your employer stating how long you’ve missed work
  • A crash report

A “pain journal” can also serve as a valuable piece of documentation. In your pain journal, you would describe the nature and extent of the discomfort you feel because of your injuries and how they limit your daily life. Keeping a pain journal can help you seek compensation for pain and suffering, which can be difficult to quantify without evidence.

How to File Accident Reports in Illinois

A police report can be a valuable piece of evidence as you pursue compensation for a car accident. While it may or may not be admissible as evidence in court, a police report can serve as a useful jumping-off point for your attorney’s independent investigation of the accident. You can request a copy of your report through the Illinois State Patrol’s online portal.

Always stay at the scene of a crash and call 911. Doing so is important even if a collision seems minor.

Remember, it’s possible to sustain crash injuries without realizing it yet. Some injuries, like whiplash, don’t always cause immediate symptoms. In addition, a motor vehicle wreck could damage a vehicle’s internal components. A car that looks relatively undamaged from the outside may have internal damage.

In the past, Illinois required motorists to file their own reports if they were involved in a crash that resulted in death, injury, or $1,500 in property damage, provided a police officer did not respond to the scene. While this law has since been repealed, you can still submit your own report if an officer did not respond and you suspect you may have been injured or sustained significant property damage.

You may use the Illinois State Police Online Crash Reporting Application to report some collisions. You may use the application specifically to report:

  • Single vehicle crashes
  • Wrecks that only cause property damage
  • Interstate highway crashes
  • Crashes occurring on Illinois roads over which the Illinois State Police have jurisdiction

If a crash doesn’t meet the above criteria, find out what police department has jurisdiction over where it occurred. Contact the department promptly to learn about filing a report.

Steps for Organizing Accident-Related Paperwork

a pile of documents after an accident on a deskKeeping track of medical records after an accident can be an overwhelming process, and they are just one type of documentation you will likely need to keep track of. Doing so doesn’t need to be as challenging as you may fear. The following personal injury documentation tips will help:

  • Keep multiple copies of documents and records  Whenever possible, save multiple copies of important documents in different formats. For example, you may have both physical and digital copies of your medical bills. Having multiple copies helps if you ever lose a piece of documentation. Saving multiple copies in multiple formats also gives you various options for organizing documents after an accident.
  • Don’t share access to your files  You may wish to share your documents with certain parties, specifically the lawyer you hire to handle your case. Generally, though, you should keep these files in secure locations, and do not let anyone access them without first speaking with an attorney about your obligation to do so. They could harm your case if they fall into the wrong hands.
  • Keep a list of documents you need to track down  Maintaining an updated accident document checklist is smart when preparing to file a claim. You may need to contact outside parties (such as police departments) to get copies of certain documents. Marking off the documents for which you already have copies will help you clearly see what’s missing.
  • Limit hazards near your documents  Saving digital copies of all your documents in multiple secure drives is a best practice in the digital age. However, you should still keep a physical folder with documentation in case anything ever happens to your digital files. When choosing a location for this folder, identify any hazards that could damage important evidence. Store your documentation in a spot as free from fire hazards, potential water damage, and other such risk factors as possible.

Always alert your lawyer and other involved parties when you receive a new piece of documentation. They also need copies for their folders.

Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer

Organizing documents after an accident isn’t a task you need to handle alone. It’s one of many tasks a Chicago personal injury lawyer at JJ Legal can handle on your behalf. For more information about what our team can do for you, contact us online or call us at 312-200-2000 today for a free case review.

Related Reading: