They key to making sure you’re properly compensated for an accident claim with an auto insurance is being organized, and having all of the necessary documentation in its place. In order to demonstrate to an insurance adjuster that your accident happened, and that your injuries are legitimate, you will need to provide certain pieces of information and documentation. Without some of this information, and insurance company can and will poke holes in your claim and find ways to diminish the value of, or deny your claim altogether. The following are some of the documents you will want to have on hand to submit along with your claim:
Make sure you get a copy of your North Carolina Accident report that was generated either by local police or state highway patrol. The Asheville Police Dept. offers an online crash report request form that you can use to get a copy digitally, or you can request a copy by mail from the NCDMV. That route is quite a bit slower, so plan ahead accordingly. Don’t have an accident report because the police were not contacted about the accident? Click here for information on how to proceed in that case.
You’ll need to request copied from all of your medical providers who treated you after the crash, including the ambulance service, emergency room/hospital network, physical therapist, chiropractor, any specialists you saw, and family physicians. It is also helpful to get records from before the crash from your primary care doctor to prove that none of these symptoms or injuries existed before the crash. If you had chronic back pain (for example) before the accident in which you had acute back injuries, it’s not the end of the world. This will be seen as an exacerbation of a previous injury or ailment, which still is valued by an insurance company. Having these documents ready and organized shows the insurer: that you actually received the treatments you say you did, that you’re actively trying to get well, and that you mean business when it comes to making your case. Most health providers will supply you with a record request form, but you’re welcome to download and use our Sample Letter to Request Medical Records.
Lost wages require some specific documentation to get properly compensated. Beyond your employer saying that you missed work, you need a note from a treating physician stating that you are “unable to work” due to injuries sustained in the accident for a specific date range or amount of time from when the letter was written. Once you have this note from your doctor, you can request from your employer a letter that states: your job title, your pay rate, how many hours a week you work, how much time you missed from your job (including sick and vacation days used), and the total amount of income lost as a result of your accident. Download our Sample Wage Verification Form if your employer cannot provide one.
You will want to know the coverage limits of your auto insurance policy, so that you’re prepared to negotiate within the boundaries of the coverage you’ve contracted for. The minimum coverage requirements in North Carolina are $30,000 Bodily Injury for each person, $60,000 total Bodily Injury for all persons in an accident and $25,000 for Property Damage. We recommend significantly better coverage to make sure you’re protected, click here for more info
Record Written and Verbal Communication
We always recommend communicating in writing, either by mail or email, so there is incontrovertible proof of what was said by whom, and when. Save every email and letter you receive in the event that there is a dispute about communications. If you do communicate by phone, we highly recommend recording those calls for the same reasons. There are a variety of apps designed for this purpose for your smartphone as well as hardware devices you can use for your land line. However, email communication ensures a transparent and accurate record of what was said by whom.
Obtain Witness Statements
Witness statements are invaluable in the effort to prove your case, in the event of a discrepancy about the event you’re claiming occurred, and occurred in the manner you’re saying it did. Make sure to get written statements from anyone who witnessed your accident. Get them as soon as possible, to ensure that its fresh in their memory, and before they move/change their phone number or email. They can be as simple as a first person account of what they saw. Be sure to get their contact info so you can get in touch with them later, just in case.
Photos of the Accident, Injuries and Property Damage
Photographing the accident scene, your injuries and your vehicle damage is tremendously helpful in demonstrating the severity of your case. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and photos are a whole lot more compelling than a list of injuries and damage. In addition to photos of your damaged vehicle, take pictures of the roadway or intersection, to help show what happened. If your accident happened near or in front of a gas station or convenience store, there might be security camera footage that shows the accident, which will be very helpful to obtain, as well. You will want to request this ASAP, as security camera footage is frequently purged to maximize hard drive storage, so if you go back 3 weeks later (or even 1 week in some cases), footage of your accident may be gone.
When to Hire an Attorney
While in some cases, it may be in your best interest to settle your accident claim without a lawyer, like for example, if you have less than $1000 in medical bills, minor injuries and when fault is undisputed. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer has the knowledge and resources to handle your claim, communicate and negotiate with an adjuster, and help you get the compensation you deserve. In addition to being your strong advocate, they also handle all of the records requests, investigation, and organization tasks associated with a successful claim outcome. Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and will speak with you about your accident.
If you need to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to help decide how best to proceed with your car accident claim, call or email today. We’d be happy to help you figure out your options so you can make a plan going forward that is in your best interest.