15 Sep, 2023

How to Document Injuries After a Car Accident

Author Todd A. Strong
Car crash from car accident on the road in a city car pickup. injuries after car accident
Car crash from car accident on the road in a city car pickup. injuries after car accident

Compiling medical records, taking photos, and other steps can help document injuries after a car accident in Illinois. These types of documents are critical in supporting a car accident case if you want to file a claim or lawsuit against the party responsible for the accident.

Learn more about the steps involved in collecting evidence and other elements of a car accident case.

Common Car Accident Injuries

Car accident victims may suffer many types of injuries, ranging in severity from mild to life-threatening. Some of the most common injuries include:

  • Whiplash — The most common type of injury sustained in car accidents is whiplash, which involves injuries in the neck resulting from a sudden change in motion. It often results when the head jerks forward in a fast motion and then backward.
  • Broken and fractured bones — Bone fractures and breaks can also occur, with partial or complete breaks possible when the body hits the vehicle or other surfaces in an accident.
  • Back injuries — These injuries can involve damage to the tissues or bones in the back, potentially leading to serious spinal cord injuries that often result in paralysis.
  • Head injuries — A head injury could result from superficial damage to the tissue and skull, or it may involve brain injuries that are frequently more serious.
  • Neck injuries — Whiplash and other neck injuries could occur in a car accident.
  • Soft tissue injuries — Injuries could also affect muscles, tendons, and ligaments, often from a strain, sprain, or impact on the body.

These and other injuries can result in several types of economic damages and non-economic damages. For instance, you may be able to seek compensation for medical bills and other financial losses, along with pain and suffering.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident

If you want to file a personal injury claim after a car accident, there are some key steps to take to increase your chances of successfully getting compensation. These steps are as follows:

1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention if Needed

If necessary, the first step after an accident will be to seek treatment. An ambulance may be able to take you or other victims to the hospital for urgent care, or you may be able to visit a doctor in the days after the accident. However, even if your injuries don't seem serious, it's crucial to seek treatment to rule out more serious conditions and get you on the path to treatment.

2. Call the Police

The next step to take at the scene of the accident is to call the police, which is legally required if someone sustains injuries or if the damage is serious enough. The police will assess the scene and put together a report, which you may then use as evidence in a claim.

3. Collect Sufficient Evidence

You'll also want to collect as much evidence to prove negligence and support your case. For instance, you might take accident scene photos along with photos of your injuries, and you may also have evidence in the form of documentation, like medical bills and receipts for property repairs or replacements.

4. Contact an Attorney

It's also important to know when to get a lawyer after an accident. To maximize your chances of succeeding with a car accident case or any other type of personal injury claim, it's often in your best interest to work with a lawyer. A lawyer may help you build a case and seek compensation from liable parties with either a claim or a lawsuit, depending on the nature of your case.

Why Seeking Medical Attention After an Accident Is Important

Never underestimate the importance of getting medical attention after a car accident. Doing so can not only diagnose any condition you may have, but it can also provide you with medical records that may help support your claim or lawsuit.

You might not consider seeking medical attention if you don't appear to have injuries or your symptoms aren't serious. However, your condition could worsen as time goes on, potentially culminating in a life-threatening situation and debilitating injuries if you wait too long. Seeing a doctor can put you on the path to full recovery and give you a real treatment plan.

Also, the longer you wait to seek treatment after an accident, the harder it will be to prove that your injuries resulted from the accident. Insurance companies may discover that you waited weeks or even months to get medical care, which could lead them to believe your injuries are unrelated to the accident.

To avoid any issues with your health or a compromised car accident case, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible following a vehicle accident.

What Do I Need to Do to Document My Injuries?

One of the most essential components of any car accident case is documentation of injuries. This type of documentation will help determine how much you should settle for and prove the nature of your injuries in a claim or suit.

There are several ways to document your injuries in these cases, such as:

Getting Medical Attention

As mentioned, seeing a doctor soon after the accident can benefit your case in several ways. One of these benefits is the generation of medical documentation, including records, bills, and receipts for treatment that can prove the extent of your injuries. The sooner you seek medical attention, the easier it will be to tie your injuries to the accident and the liable party responsible for the accident.

Putting Together a Medical File

Another step you can take to document your accident injuries is to develop a medical file that organizes all relevant information. This file will include a variety of documents to prove your injuries, including everything from medical bills and treatment reports to diagnostics and test results.

Speaking With Witnesses

If someone was present at the scene of the accident and can provide an accurate account of how the accident occurred, you should get contact details from this witness and others at the accident scene. A car accident witness statement can go a long way in helping confirm your version of events and may back your claim.

While police officers may obtain witness information, you can also get these details yourself from any witnesses remaining at the scene or at a later date. The information you'll want to get includes the witness's name, physical address, phone number, and email.

Capturing Photo and Video Evidence

Accident scene photos and videos are also important to capture. You'll want to record every relevant detail you can to show how the accident occurred and the resulting damages.

For instance, you should take photos of any vehicles present at the accident scene and the damage they sustained. Additionally, photograph your injuries in proper lighting to show the impact of the accident, even if your injuries appear minor. You can also photograph hazards in the road that may have contributed to the accident, such as potholes, debris, and road working equipment. Some photo evidence may also show how poor lighting conditions could have led to the accident, such as photos showing how an accident occurred at night on a deserted roadway or at a dark intersection.

Maintaining a Journal

Keeping a “pain journal” recording the details of your experience after an accident may specifically help prove non-economic damages while supporting your general claims regarding the severity of your injuries.

This journal could detail how you're feeling both physically and mentally after the accident. You might document the recovery process and any struggles you find, along with mental distress in the form of anxiety, depression, or other emotions. Regularly updating this journal will help show the progress you make or any issues you experience because of the impact of the accident.

Consulting an Attorney

You can further ensure you have all the necessary documentation in a car accident case with the help of a motor vehicle accident attorney. An experienced lawyer can meet with you in a free consultation to discuss your case and determine what options are available to you regarding compensation. The attorney may then decide to handle your case, at which point he or she can then begin collecting sufficient documentation to build a case in your favor. In the process, the attorney could also negotiate a settlement with insurers or even take your case to trial if you need to file a lawsuit instead of a claim.

Why You Should Document Your Injuries After an Accident in Illinois

One of the main elements that you'll need to prove your case and help you recover compensation is documentation of your injuries. Having the right documentation in the form of medical bills, photos, witness statements, journals, and more can significantly increase your chances of recovering full compensation following a motor vehicle accident.

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.