Document Everything!

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Good documentation - and organization of that documentation - is essential to a good insurance settlement (whether you are doing it yourself or retaining an attorney) There is no substitute for documentation. Your memory cannot do it. You must: DOCUMENT! DOCUMENT! DOCUMENT!

Be prepared to keep track of things in your life as you have never done before. This is not something you have to do extra because you have not hired an injury attorney. Any attorney and his staff will tell you that the value of your insurance claim depends upon your ability to document the details of your claim. To the extent that you do not document, you will spend time in the attorney's office going over the details with him or his staff. More critical, when you cannot document parts of your injury claim, you may discover that those parts of the claim have zero value.

In fact, because neither the attorney nor her staff was with you at the time of your accident, through medical treatment, or through your recovery process, you will have to document even more for them than if you handle your own claim. Time ComparisonsGo to YOU WILL SAVE A LOT OF MONEY DOING IT YOURSELF provides more detail on the time required to settle your claim, with an attorney or doing it yourself. You might just be surprised to see that it can take more time to use an attorney!

Make memos to your own file of everything that might be pertinent, and a few things else as well! These are just quick memos that you can put in your file of phone calls that you are not going to document with a confirming letter, difficulties you have had that you are going to keep track of until you transfer them to your Confidential Personal DiaryGo to CONFIDENTIAL PERSONAL DIARY, things that your doctor or physical therapist told you, and miscellaneous thoughts that you want to gather in preparation for your Demand LetterGo to DEMAND LETTERS: INTRODUCTION.

Immediately after an accident, after you have reported it or if there is no one to report to, begin documenting what happened. If you have followed our advice, you will have a camera, notepad and pen in your car. If you are not already it the car, go there to retrieve your notepad, pen and camera. Write a note. Leave the note at the manager's door, on the gate of the house with a dog that bit you, or simply make a record for yourself.

When writing a note to leave for someone else, explain the circumstances and how to contact you. Keep a copy of the note, even if it means having to write it out twice. Take photographs immediatelyGo to PHOTOGRAPHS AT THE SCENE. If you have a friend with you, have him take the photographs and have him be a witness to the condition that caused your injury.

If the scene is a motor vehicle accident, take a deep breath to make sure you are okay and size up the extent of any passengers' injuries or injuries to any other parties. Do what you can do to help. Move yourself and others to safety. Should you move your car? There is mixed advice on this topic. The police and others interested in traffic flow and safety would like you to move your cars to the side of the road as soon as possible. That seems reasonable advice because you will otherwise risk endangering others or causing others to hit your vehicles.

However, before you move the vehicles, be sure to use your camera to get photographs of the entire area and the resting place of the vehicles. One or two won't do. You are talking about a potential difference of thousands of dollars in a case, so get that disposable camera and take a number of photographs. Then, move your vehicles to safety and await the arrival of the police. Again, be aware of dirt debris that fell from underneath the bumpers when the vehicles collided. You can show that in a photograph, you can point it out to the police when they arrive, and you can write it in your notes.