Have you suffered a personal injury in Delaware? After you have been injured in an accident, you may experience pain, sleeplessness, discomfort, anxiety, loss of memory, loss of income, medical expenses and other difficulties that disrupt your everyday life. To receive fair compensation after the accident, you will need to understand personal injury claim requirements and provide the appropriate documents needed for your personal injury claim.
Documentation will need to prove your specific injury, related treatment and expenses, and the nature of the accident that caused your injury. We have compiled this guide on what to do after a personal injury to help you prove your case.
You will need to provide adequate documentation related to your injury and how you have suffered as a result. Why should you document your personal injury? Long term documentation of your injuries and related care helps prove your case and can enhance the value of yourclaim so that you receive fair compensation and reimbursement of losses. You can help prove how you were affected by the accident by providing documentation of your injuries and financial status. Documentation will also serve to refresh your memory of the accident and your symptoms in the days and weeks after.
What Documents Do I Need to Document an Injury?
There are a variety of documents you need to include on your personal injury case status checklist. The following are the documents to keep after a personal injury:
Police exchange sheets and reports
Accident reconstruction reports
Reports from private investigations
Journal of events
Initial medical examination
Reports of other complaints or accidents
Communication with the insurance company
Receipts of payment
Photographs of the scene, the property damage and the injuries.
These documents are essential for your personal injury evidence.
1. Official Reports
There are a few important pieces of personal injury documentation included in the official reports category. This documentation includes the following:
Law Enforcement/Police Reports
One of the first steps when pursuing how to prove a personal injury claim is to obtain a law enforcement or police report. According to Delaware law, you are required to report a car accident to the police in the following situations:
The accident caused an injury or fatality.
The accident may have involved a driver who was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Beyond the legal requirements, contacting the police is often a good idea, as you may need a law enforcement report to file a claim with the insurance company. In a post-accident report, law enforcement will take notes on the scene, injuries and damage that resulted from the crash. Quite often it is the police report that provides a diagram of the scene, identification of witnesses and the police determination of fault by investigation and issuing of citations.
Accident Reconstruction Reports
Reconstructing an accident can provide an explanation of the mechanics of a car accident. An expert will examine the crash scene, map the scene using surveying equipment and take measurements. With computer software and algorithms, the expert will then create the reconstruction. The attorneys at Rahaim Saints & Walstrom, LLP have the experience and connections to obtain the right expert for your case if one is needed.
Reports From Additional Law Enforcement Agencies
Additional law enforcement agencies such as OSHA may investigate a crash that occurs within the agency’s jurisdiction. If so, these agencies may complete reports on the accident, and you may be able to use these reports to support your personal injury case.
Private investigators are sometimes hired to assist in insurance cases. If you are planning to file a lawsuit, building evidence early is key, and this is where a private investor comes in. A private investigator can confirm that you have a valid claim and can lead to a successful outcome for your case.
2. Photo Documentation
Photos and videos are excellent sources of evidence to prove your personal injury claim. They can also help your insurance company determine the cause of the accident and which party was at fault. Take photos immediately after the accident occurs and be sure to document the injuries, scene, surrounding damage and people who are present.
Taking Photos Immediately
After the accident occurs, you should take photos as soon as possible. When you take pictures of the scene and aspects relevant to the accident, you can:
Show a visual of the accident: You can document the accident visually when you have photos. For example, after a car accident, pictures can capture details of the location, how the cars were positioned and what the weather conditions were like. If it was snowing or raining, this may prove that the driver was moving too quickly for the road conditions.
Refresh your memory: Small details can quickly escape our memories, even after a traumatic accident. Fortunately, pictures can refresh your memory, which is particularly useful when you are speaking with the insurance company about your claim or testifying about the accident.
Preserve evidence: Pictures are a great way to preserve evidence of the accident. Photos can help prove your personal injury claim by showing the accident’s results, particularly if you are working with an insurance adjuster.
Photos to Take of a Personal Injury
One of the details you should capture with photograph evidence is your injuries. If you were injured at work, you should take workplace injury pictures. You may have a much easier time proving you were injured if you have photo evidence. Look for and photograph any of the following if you think you may have a personal injury case:
Visible marks such as abrasions or bruises
Bloody or torn clothing
Hospital beds if admitted to hospital care
Cast, braces or crutches
Photos of the Scene
In the event of a car accident, make sure you take photos of the scene of the accident, including traffic lights and stop signs if there are any nearby. Did the accident take place at or near an intersection or a parking lot? Photos can help show the setting of the accident and what the traffic was like at the time.
You should also take pictures of the damage to your car. Take as many pictures as you can from every angle, including long-distance and close-up shots. Snap photos of every car involved, as damage to vehicles can help determine who was at fault. If there is a dent where a car was hit, for instance, this can provide proof that the other driver caused the damage.
What other damage is around you? Are there vehicle parts around you or skid marks? If vehicle parts are no longer intact and are lying nearby, you may want to obtain photographic evidence of them to further prove damage to your vehicle.
Skid marks can also indicate that one of the vehicles hit the brakes suddenly, failed to yield or was moving too quickly for the road conditions. Alternatively, a lack of skid marks may prove that a driver did not attempt to hit the brakes before the crash because he or she was distracted. Take a photo of the road near where the collision occurred regardless of whether skid marks are present.
Photos of People Present
You may want to take photos of those who were involved in the accident and anyone who may have witnessed the crash, including passengers, police officers and witnesses. These photos can prevent you from confusing the identities of anyone involved. Keep in mind that you should not take pictures of any injured people other than yourself.
Along with official reports and photos, you may want to collect witness statements, your personal injury journal of events and victim statements.
Witness statements can make or break your personal injury case. You will want to obtain witness statements as early as possible. You can hire a private investigator who can reach out to witnesses for recorded witness statements, informal witness interviews or written and signed witness statements.
The option that is most appropriate depends on the circumstances of your situation. For example, written witness statements are appropriate when your case has more than the average disputed liability. Your private investigator will meet with the witness in person at the witness’s earliest convenience and ask what the witness saw and find out how their memory may impact liability.
Your Personal Injury Journal of Events
Keep a daily journal about your injury and medical care. Include as much detail as possible in your entries, such as the degree of pain you feel and any inconveniences you experience due to your injuries. Additionally, you may want to describe how your injury has impacted your interpersonal relationships.
You can write your journal by hand, or you can type your entries if you cannot write by hand due to your injury. Your journal should be private, and no one except your attorney should have access to it. Your personal injury attorney can help you decide what information should be included and how often you should be updating your journal.
Victim statements are written or oral statements presented in court to allow a judge to hear how you were affected by a criminal act. Usually, numerous individuals provide written victim statements to the sentencing judge, but only a few who are directly connected to the accident or crime will speak at sentencing.
4. Medical Reports and Treatment Journal
After you have been injured in an accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. Even if you believe your injury is not very serious right now, symptoms can emerge days after the accident, such as:
Receiving medical attention immediately is the best thing you can do for your health, and it can also strengthen your personal injury case. Delaying medical attention for days or weeks can make it more difficult for you to prove your injuries are severe and a result of the accident.
Initial Medical Examination
Your initial medical examination is key to proving you were injured. Accurately describe your symptoms — do not exaggerate or minimize your symptoms or pain levels.
After you visit your doctor, take additional photos of any bandages, splints or casts that you must wear during the healing process. If you do not receive a medical examination right away, the insurance company may not believe your injuries were as serious as you say. This could impact the amount of compensation you receive.
Medical Examinations and Specialist Reports
If you need additional medical examinations or examinations from specialists — which is likely if your injuries are severe — you should obtain records for these reports as well. These reports can provide further evidence about the severity of your injury and how the accident has impacted your everyday life.
It is important that you not miss your scheduled appointments, as this can both hurt your recovery and be interpreted as a lack of a need for medical care. Keep a record of the dates you attended physical therapy or visited a doctor to ensure all your relevant medical records are obtained.
You should also be taking detailed notes in a treatment journal. Keeping a detailed treatment journal can help you receive full reimbursement from your insurance company. Be sure to make a note of the names and addresses of any medical professionals you visit, including doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors.
You should keep every form of correspondence you have with a medical professional during your course of treatment, including emails, notes from doctor’s appointments and notes you take during or after phone calls.
5. Reports of Other Complaints or Accidents
Along with law enforcement reports, there may be other official reports available. For example, if the accident happens at a business, business representatives or employees may make an incident report. These reports can provide further evidence about how the incident occurred. You may also want to keep documentation on any history of past violations.
6. Physical Evidence
Be sure to retain physical evidence from the incident. If you were in a car accident, you should keep the following physical evidence:
Any clothing and items worn during the incident: Some of the physical evidence to keep from an incident includes the clothing or items you were wearing at the time.
Damaged items from the scene: Were there any items that were damaged and came off your vehicle? You may want to keep these items as physical evidence of the accident.
If you were involved in an altercation, there also may be objects you want to preserve, such as a weapon.
7. Insurance Information
You should also keep your insurance information and the insurance information of the other drivers on hand, including who the insurance provider is and the policy information. Insurance information documentation includes insurance cards and communication with the insurance company.
Keep whatever correspondence you receive from the insurance provider, as this can provide further proof that you were impacted by the accident and that you reported this accident to the insurance company.
8. Work Information and Wages
If you lose wages or overtime due to your injuries, keep track of this lost income. Your attorney may be able to recover lost wages from your PIP carrier if your injury was caused by a vehicle accident or as part of the liability if you slipped and fell due to the fault of another party.
If your injury has impacted your pay and your earning capacity, you should retain documents relevant to your work information, including your W-2s, pay stubs, bonus reports and other paperwork that shows what your pay was before the accident that caused your injury.
9. Bills and Invoices
Your personal injury documentation should also include your bills, invoices and receipts for expenses related to your injury and recovery.
If your doctor has sent you medical bills, save them and bring them to your attorney’s office or mail them. Your lawyer can make copies of your medical bills and forward them to the appropriate carrier. Medical bills for an injury caused by a car accident may be covered by your own PIP auto insurance carrier up to the policy limits you purchased, for up to two years, or perhaps longer if surgery is involved that can not be performed within the two year period.
Subsequently, these bills may be covered by your health insurance. Our attorneys will discuss this with you at the initial consultation and will help you get bills covered throughout your claim.
Your personal injury case will also include estimates for damages, such as future medical expenses, future lost income and general damages.
After a car accident, you may need to have repairs made to your vehicle. Keep the invoices for any repairs that were made to your car after the accident, as this will provide further proof beyond photos that your vehicle was damaged. Not all damage to a vehicle is visible at the scene of the crash, so your repair invoices can prove additional damage beyond the obvious.
Receipts of Payments
Finally, you should keep receipts of payments you made for prescribed medications, co-payments, special foods and assistive devices like crutches, canes and walkers. You may also want to track your travel expenses for your medical appointments.
Common Mistakes in Personal Injury Documentation
Along with knowing how to handle a personal injury case, you should know what not to do. The following are some common mistakes to be aware of and avoid during the personal injury claim process:
1. Not Providing Enough Documentation
A common mistake within personal injury cases is not providing enough documentation of injuries and the resulting pain and suffering. You should be taking as many photos, videos and notes as possible, along with retaining as many relevant documents as possible.
2. Admitting Fault
At the scene of the accident, you may feel inclined to apologize. When speaking to your auto insurance agent, you may also mistakenly admit fault. However, when you admit even partial fault, this can jeopardize your personal injury claim. Rather than assume blame or responsibility for the accident, you should:
Provide a detailed account of the accident.
Let your attorney obtain a police report.
Provide photos of the accident.
Even if you think you may have been partially or fully responsible for the accident, do not admit fault to the other party, witnesses, passengers or your auto insurance provider. Simply give an honest report about what occurred and allow the insurance companies to make conclusions about the details.
3. Waiting to Get Help
If you wait to get help from a personal injury attorney, you could be compromising your case and limiting the amount of compensation you can receive. You could also end up paying more for the damage you suffer when you wait to get help from a lawyer.
If you have suffered a personal injury, you need a personal injury attorney who can provide the legal representation you need to receivehe maximum compensation available. We represent clients in the following types of personal injury law:
An experienced lawyer can provide the assistance you need and play an integral role in the type of settlement you receive. Have you been injured in Delaware? Contact us today to determine if you have a personal injury case and how you can proceed.