Keeping Records After an Injury: Why, How, and for How Long?

Accident Paperwork
Judge Dan Hinde

There are a million things that have to be done after an accident. You probably have to keep up with appointments, talk to insurance companies and attorneys, and generally try to get your life back to normal. In the midst of all of this, you will probably be dealing with a mountain of paperwork. When you are preparing for a lawsuit, you will need accurate records, so here’s a quick guide to what to keep and for how long.

If you have been injured in an accident, the first thing you need to do is contact a personal injury lawyer. Shop for a law firm in your state that comes with a strong reputation and a solid winning record. Your chosen law firm will advise you of the best steps to take to win your case and get the compensation you deserve. They will also advise you regarding the documents you will have to hold onto for dear life.


PPC for Legal

Choose an attorney who has successfully handled many personal injury cases, from slips and falls to workplace accidents and auto crashes. However, until you sign that retainer, let’s see what papers you need to keep close and use whenever necessary during your insurance claim or lawsuit process.

The police report

It is your record of the events and facts of the accident, so you want to keep this one until the case is resolved. The police report may also include eyewitness statements, contact information for anyone else involved, and vital details for proving your case. The police report will be used heavily in the litigation process, so be sure to hold onto it until you receive your settlement.

How long to keep: Until the end of the case.


Injury RX

Car repair records

You will be asking for compensation for your property damage in a car accident, so it pays to hold onto all of your car repair records to support your claims. In addition, if you have information about the car’s value before the accident, being able to provide this will definitely bolster your case. Finally, if you have statements from your car insurance company, it pays to have those on hand as well.

How long to keep: Until the settlement is reached.


If you have photos from the accident, these will be highly valuable for your case. You will need them to prove the damage to your vehicle. If you are the victim in a slip and fall case, the pictures you took of the premises in question will show whether it was unsafe and how unsafe it was. Overall, keep your photos until the case is concluded.

How long to keep: For up to one year afterward in case the other party appeals.


Computer Forensics

Medical Records

After any accident type, you must seek immediate medical help and keep up with every appointment, from your primary care physician to your specialists and rehab practitioners. Medical records are a vital part of your claim and determine how much compensation you will receive. Keep the following records on hand until the case is settled:

  • Emergency medical service records, ambulance bills, emergency room charges
  • Diagnostic records like x-rays, MRI or CAT scans, blood testing, and results
  • Long-term treatment history
  • Lists of medications and prescriptions
  • Records from physical therapists and chiropractors
  • Records from mental health specialists
  • Records of any other medical costs you have incurred as a result of the accident

How long to keep: Until the settlement is reached.

Employment and Income Records

You will need to demonstrate that you have lost income due to the accident (if it is the case). Showing records of your past employment will not only help prove your current lost income but your potential future income loss. The most common records that people present to the court are:

  • W2 forms and pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Profit and loss statements
  • Statements from small business income
  • Resumes and complete employment histories
  • Evidence of missed sales opportunities

Hold onto as many of these as possible, taking care to retain records starting from about 3-6 months before the accident (your employer or accountant are likely to help with this). Generally, you will want to keep these records until the case is concluded and you have been paid your settlement.

How long to keep: until the settlement is reached.

Bottom Line

Generally, you will want to maintain accurate records and keep them until the case has been concluded and you have been paid. Detailed records can mean the difference between getting the settlement you deserve and having to accept less.

Mark Scott

With a law degree under his belt, Mark Scott understood very early that law communication was a relatively neglected area. He decided to help people by “translating” the language and offering information and advice in a clear, useful, and actionable manner. For this reason, instead of finding him in court, you will most likely find his name online, where he is very active and thriving as a legal columnist. His part of making the world a better place is to make the law a less convoluted maze. He aims to make it easier for people to understand when and how to seek legal counsel, how to proceed in a significant number of legal matters and to find the proper resources so they can stand up for their rights.

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