When it comes to any serious situation—especially those involving the law—being organized is a must. are no different. In fact, there are serious pros to keeping all the information you will gather over the life of your claim in order. Remember, can take months, if not years, to complete so it will be helpful to have a system of organization. These three tips will make you more efficient, save you time later, and help you to achieve the results you want. When it comes to your personal injury claim, a well-organized case can mean the difference between a mediocre settlement and a larger settlement.
Your claim will, no doubt, take some time to complete. You will also collect many different pieces of information along the way: names, phone numbers, claim numbers, medical records, appointment times, treatment information, etc.; the list goes on. It will be more than helpful to be able to instantly access any document you need when speaking with your adjuster, attorney, or any number of other people you will be in contact with. A well-organized case will also expose missing pieces of information, help you to keep facts straight, and speed things along later.
In order to keep your claim well organized, you should do three basic things: keep a folder with all your case information, keep notes of important events, and keep a calendar of dates and appointments.
1. Keeping an Injury Claim File Folder
Just moments after the accident, documents will start rolling in police reports, information from your insurance company, towing receipts, witness names, and numbers, etc. The need for keeping all this paperwork in good order will almost instantly be recognizable.
Start by heading to an office supply store or big-box store and spending a few dollars to get started. The money will be well spent. At first, buy to break the information up by category (you may need a larger or second folder later). Each section will have a place for a label, most likely in the form of a tab divider. Ensure the folder you buy has this feature. Then label each section of the folder with the categories found below.
Side Note: These are similar sections to the way personal injury attorneys organize the cases at their office.
File Sections and Contents
Although property damage does not directly relate to your injury claim, it will surely be an integral part of your initial concern. It will also have its fair share of paperwork. After all, you will need your vehicle repaired. In this section, include information and documents including, body shop repair estimates, towing bills and receipts, estimates for damaged personal items, and any insurance information related to the property damage claim.
You should also get in the habit of keeping meticulous records of the correspondence you create as well. This goes specifically for letters and emails. When you write someone a letter, print a copy for yourself and file it in your folder.
This section of your folder should include:
- Your notification letter to the at-fault driver and insurance company
- Your demand letter
- The insurance company‘s reservation of rights letter
- All correspondence to and from the insurance claims adjuster
- Your letters to all medical providers
- All other miscellaneous correspondence
- Some of this may be handled by your attorney, but you will be surprised at how fast the information on your end piles up.
This section of the folder will be for all documentation related to your medical treatment; there is a separate section for medical bills. In this section, keep all your , including medical procedure, diagnosis, prognosis, medications, treatment, and so on. Attach copies of all of your medical records, including:
- Admitting charts
- Doctors’ and nurses’ notes
- Doctors’ medical narratives
- Exam and test results
Again, your attorney may be handling a bulk of the information regarding your medical records, but anything you do deal with you should keep organized.
When someone is injured in an accident and needs to file an injury claim, chances are they have extensive medical issues. And with extensive medical issues, comes the . In this section of the folder, keep every bill from every medical provider in chronological order, with the most recent on top. After all, this is the stuff that you need help paying for. It will greatly benefit you to know every dollar spent on your recovery. Include bills from chiropractors, therapists, hospitals, primary care physicians, and any other healthcare provider. Start with the first bill from day one (ambulance, emergency room, etc.) and keep filing until you are completely healed.
In this section, you want to put anything that is related to —other than medical bills. They get their section because the bills from healthcare providers will be extensive. This section should include any work-related information, including lost wages and benefits; any costs that are outside of medical care or work, like changes made to your home to make areas more accessible; a log of your drive time to and from appointments; etc. Not all costs outside of lost wages and medical bills are covered, but it will greatly help to keep track of them in case they are.
(whether it’s a , , or an ) you must get the to the incident. This will be imperative to your case later. Type up a list with their name and contact information; then file it in this section. Also, include copies of their written statements and any other information you may have on them.
In this section, you will include any evidence that you have gathered of your injury and accident. This will most likely consist of . Have all the photos you took of the accident, damage, scene, and injuries printed. Then label them, add notes, dates, time, and photographer and add them to this section. You can also keep a running list of here too, like notes on weather conditions, a short summary of any videos you may have, etc.
2. Take Notes
Take notes, take notes, take notes. As mentioned a few times above, there will be coming at you throughout this process: dates, times, names, numbers, places, procedures, etc. Likewise, you will have many different conversations, both in person and over the phone, which you will need to remember later. To keep track of all this, during each phase of the settlement process. Again, it will be best to have a designated space for these notes, like a journal or some sort of notebook. You can opt for something less expensive like a or something more durable like a . That’s up to you.
Make an entry each time you speak with someone so that later you can reference back when the conversation took place and what was said. Below is an example of the type of notes you should take. They don’t have to be extensive, but anything that can prompt your memory later will be beneficial.
Example of Notes You Might Take During the Claims Process:
- September 17, 2016 @ 8:15 AM — Spoke with attorney. He is waiting on medical bills from the hospital. Needs witness info emailed to him. Recounted details of accident again.
- September 18, 2016, @ 12:25 PM — Contacted the orthopedic doctor to make an appointment. Spoke with insurance adjuster (Jim Philips) right after and went over damage to the vehicle. He will call back in next few days.
- September 20, 2016, @ 4:00 PM — Jim, adjuster, called back today and gave me an offer on car damage. $7,500. Will speak to attorney about it tomorrow at appointment (09/21/2016 at 9am at 800 N Belcher Rd, Clearwater).
- September 21, 2016, @ 9:00 AM — Met with Alex at Dolman Law Group for evaluation and intake appointment. Needs me to send photos to his email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you can see, the notes don’t need to be elaborate or lengthy; they just need to hit the main points with dates, times, and important info, like names, addresses, numbers, and what was discussed.
3. Keep a Calendar
Like the need for a separate folder to keep all your documents and a separate journal for notes in, it is a good idea to get a just for the purpose of your injury claim. Obviously, you will use this to keep track of stuff like attorney’s and doctor’s appointments, but also for other stuff too. For example, in the above notes, the claims adjuster mentioned he would call back in a few days. Mark this on the calendar and then follow up if he doesn’t call when he said he would. If someone says they’ll send a document on Monday, write it down. It can’t be reiterated enough that there will be a lot of info. Likewise, holding people accountable to their estimated timetables will speed things along.
Keeping everything this well-organized may sound like a lot of work, and it may seem tedious. But there are so many advantages to having everything in one place and systematized. If someone calls and asks what date you visited so-and-so doctor and what they said, it will only take you a few seconds to find that info. Taking the little bit of extra time when you first get the document or information will save you loads of time later when you don’t have to search through Mount St. Injury Settlement on your dining room table.
Dolman Law Group
At Dolman Law Group, we want to make sure that your injury claim goes as smoothly as possible. To make this happen, we work diligently to keep your case well organized and on time. But we can’t do it alone. Following the above tips will help to make both your and your attorney’s life a little easier. We look forward to helping you get the compensation you deserve for your injury. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation. Our phone number is 727-853-6275 or you can send us an email by using our .
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652