How to Document All Your Injuries after a Car Accident

This is a guest post courtesy of Perry J. Armitage, a Personal Injury Senior Litigator at McQuarrie, a law firm that provides comprehensive legal services throughout BC.

If you are in a car accident and suffer injuries, it is of the utmost importance that you start properly documenting the injuries as soon as you are able. Proper documentation helps establish strong evidence and a paper trail to support any injury claims or future lawsuits you make. Knowing what to document is also extremely important, especially if you are involved in an accident with multiple people in the car or your dog or pet. A common example of improper documentation is failing to document any minor or serious injury suffered by your dog, this could lead to costly short and long-term health issues for your dog like torn ligaments. This oversight could cost you some big bucks out of pocket at the vet, Yikes! Here is how to properly document injuries after being in a car accident.

Take Lots of Pictures

With injury claims, the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is absolutely true.  It is extremely important to take pictures of your injuries after an accident as soon as it is reasonably possible.  Not only should bruises, abrasions and lacerations be photographed and documented but also if you’re bandaged-up, placed in a wheelchair or crutches, or put in a caste, brace or a sling.  Don’t rely on hospital or your medical treatment providers to necessarily document the visual appearance of your injuries. Have a friend or family member check the areas of your body you cannot see.  If there is evidence of injury, snap the photo!

Over the ensuing days or weeks, continue to take pictures of the injuries until there is nothing more to photograph.  That way you have documented how long your injuries took to disappear to give a completely accurate and documented timeline for how long you were injured and how long it took you to recover.

Get Medical Attention

Seek medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible. If you are seriously injured, you may require immediate medical attention at the scene. If you’re not hospitalized schedule a visit with your treating physician or walk in clinic doctor as soon as you can. Don’t delay. This will start an irrefutable paper trail that will document the exact injuries you sustained and their severity.

You may not notice right away that you have sustained an injured. Some injuries take time to before they become known.  Soft tissue injuries can take days or, in some case, even weeks to appear.

As soon as you notice an injury, do not delay.  Seek medical attention right away to begin documenting the injuries, complaints and treatment recommendations.  The sooner this begins the better.

Follow the Medical Advice Given

After seeking medical attention, following the advice you receive as best you can is very important.  If your doctor makes a suggestion with respect to treatment, you are well advised to at least try it.  The insurance company will argue you have failed to “mitigate” your claim by not at least trying whatever it is that your doctor is recommending, even if unsuccessful in your attempt.  The same is true when considering returning to work. If your doctor says you are ready to return to work and you do nothing about it, then they will argue you have failed to mitigate your income loss, the result being they deduct a percentage from your claim.   

Save All Your Medical Files & Receipts

Keep all your medical documents, receipts, and any other relevant documentation you can gather. This should include things such as receipts for:

  • Medical equipment — wheelchairs, crutches, walking boots, etc
  • Prescriptions — pain killers, anti-bacteria for infections, etc
  • Treatment costs — physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage, etc
  • Housekeeping Services – indoor and outdoor, etc

See Your Doctor Regularly

Your lawyers will need reports from your doctors at some point and if there are gaps in treatment then the obvious conclusion ICBC draws is “How bad can it be?”  Also, regular visits make it much easier for your doctor to write a report that is comprehensive and thorough, something your lawyer will eventually need. It is often the opinions expressed by the medical experts that can make or break your case.   Keeping your doctor informed and up-to-date is the key.

If you are experiencing any emotional consequences arising from the accident in the form of depression, anxiety, fear of motor vehicle travel, etc, you must be sure to bring these to the attention of your doctor so that it forms part of the clinical record.  Also, if you’ve sustained a disruption in your normal state of consciousness at the scene of the accident, then you most certainly need to make your doctors aware of this. Symptoms such as, blacking out, difficulty with concentration and memory, trouble with focus or concentration, vertigo, nausea, mood or personality change, loss of inhibition, etc.  These are all symptoms of a concussion and/or brain injury. If you didn’t hear the sound of the crash, then it’s possible you were rendered unconscious in the crash.

Back up All Your Documentation

For all of your documentation, it is important that you have it backed up in case something happens to your records. The last thing you want is to lose everything in a fire or other type of accident. To be thorough, it’s a good idea to follow the rule of three for properly backing up all vital information:

  1. Keep three separate copies of all your important documentation
  2. Have at least two different formats (example: photocopied or printed documents + scanned data stored in a hard drive)
  3. Keep one of your copies in a different location in case there is a fire that destroys all copies

This process helps virtually guarantee that all of the documentation that you have for your injuries will not be lost no matter what happens. It may seem like overkill, but it ensures you have all of your medical evidence to bring to any legal proceedings.

About the Author:

Perry Armitage is a Partner and senior personal injury lawyer at McQuarrie, a law firm located in Surrey, British Columbia, also serving the Greater Vancouver and Lower Mainland area of B.C. Perry has represented clients at examinations of discovery, pre-trial court applications, trials, and has brought personal injury matters in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, achieving awards as high as $2 million dollars. He consistently achieves out of court settlements for his clients, most recently reaching a $2.2 million dollar settlement against ICBC. Perry enjoys sharing his legal expertise with claimants who are going through the personal injury process in order to educate them and help them reach a fair settlement. Perry enjoys sharing his legal expertise with claimants who are going through the personal injury process in order to educate them and help them reach a fair settlement.

Author: Brandon Park