How to Document an Accident: All the Important Car Records to Keep

Every year, there is an average of 6 million car accidents in the United States. 

Even if you’re the safest driver on the road, odds are you might find yourself involved in an accident at some point. If this is your first accident, you may find yourself emotional, overwhelmed, and possibly injured.

The first thing to do when involved in a car accident is to remain calm. Then, you can start documenting the accident. Here are the important car records to keep when you’re in a wreck.

Police Accident Report

When you’re involved in a car accident, emergency personnel, including police officers, respond to the scene. 

Officers make sure that anyone who has injuries receives medical attention and help direct traffic. But the most important thing they do is file the official accident report

The accident report consists of basic information, such as drivers involved and their insurance information. But the report also contains a narrative of what the officer believes caused the accident and their estimate of damage costs. Some reports even contain witness information along with a record of any personal property that was damaged.

As you can see, the police report is a wealth of important information pertaining to your accident. 

A few days after the accident, you can request a physical copy of the report at the police department. This paperwork is public information, so you should have no problem obtaining a copy. Just know you may need to pay a few dollars in administration fees to obtain it. 

Photographs of the Accident

While you’re still at the scene, it’s important to try to remember to take photographs. While the officer may include photographs in their report, they may not show the extent of the damage. 

Take a few wide photographs of the whole scene. This will help you remember the layout of the road and how the vehicles were positioned. This will also capture any traffic lights, construction, or weather conditions that may have contributed to the accident. 

Then, take close-up photos of the damage on all vehicles involved. While your main attention will be on your own vehicle, don’t neglect to take photos of the other accident. This will help you prove the damage later if the other driver is trying to claim more damage occurred than what actually did. 

After you take these photos using your cell phone, make sure you back up the files. Send them to your email and also print out copies. This ensures that if something happens to your phone, you’ll still have access to this evidence. 

Mechanic’s Damage Overview and Costs

Filing a claim with your insurance after a car accident is easier with documentation from a mechanic. 

Some insurance companies may request that you work with a certain mechanic, so make sure you check with them before you schedule your initial appointment. 

Then, start by asking your trusted mechanic for an overview of the damages before they begin to repair your vehicle. Make sure that the list is comprehensive and includes both cosmetic as well as mechanical effects. You can also ask for a price estimate included with this to determine if your car should be repaired or considered totaled. 

If repairs are in order, allow your mechanic to follow through with them all. Once finished, ask for an itemized bill of all costs. Make several copies of this document so you can provide one to your insurance company while keeping a few for your own records. 

Communication with Insurance Companies

Insurance companies can be difficult to work with at times. This is especially true if you work with a large insurance company as your communication may be with a different agent each time.

This is why it’s extremely important to keep a record of all communication with your insurance company. 

Start each phone call by informing the agent that you are recording the call for documentation purposes. Depending on your state, you’re required to inform people when they’re being recorded so don’t forget this step. Once the call is finished, label the audio file with the date of the call for your future records. 

In addition, keep detailed notes during every call. Label the top of each paper with the date of the call, so you can match the notes to the recording later to save time. Your notes will be quicker to find information than listening to a whole recording, but the recording will contain the exact wording used. 

Medical Records

If you or a passenger in your vehicle sustained injuries in the accident, keep a detailed log of your medical records. 

If you were transported for your injuries immediately after the accident, start with your emergency records. Then, keep track of all follow-up appointments with your doctors and physical therapists.

Some insurance companies ask for proof of medical appointments before reimbursing these costs. So not only is it important to attend all scheduled medical appointments, but it’s also important to keep the documentation proving it. 

Also, if you have to miss work because of your injuries, you’ll want documentation to seek lost wages. Keep the order from your doctor along with any documentation from your workplace proving the pay you lost out on. 

Keep Your Car Records Organized After a Wreck

Now that you know which car records to keep a hold of after a wreck, it’s important to organize them. Start by creating an important papers to keep checklist so you can keep track of which documents you still need to collect. 

Then, create a specific folder in your filing cabinet labeled with “Car Accident [date of the accident].” Also, upload digital copies to your computer so you have a backup of all documents. 

Looking for more ways to organize both your personal and business lives? Browse this blog for all the best tips and tricks related to tons of different topics. 

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