Whenever you suffer an injury, you will likely need to fill out an accident report. Insurance companies require it before you can make a claim, accidents at work must often be reported as a matter of office record, and the police may ask you to fill out a report following a car accident or a crime. Regardless of the circumstances, you want to fill out an accident report as clearly and accurately as possible. A few sensible tips can help you cut through the clutter.
- Skill level:
Fill out the basic information. The first parts of an accident report are pretty straightforward: your name, place of residence, date of the accident, and possibly an insurance policy number. For accidents at work, you may also be asked to fill out the details of your employment, such as how long you have worked there, your specific duties and the name and contact information of your supervisor.
Describe the details of the accident as clearly as you can. You should include the exact time and place of the accident, the circumstances which led up to it, the sequence of events in the accident itself, the number of people involved and the names and contact information of any witnesses present. If a policeman arrived at the scene, you should include his name and badge number if you have it. Strive to be as brief as you can--don't fill the report with unnecessary details--but also include any piece of information you feel is pertinent. Objectivity is important too. Police, employers and insurance companies tend to look more favourably upon a report written with an open mind rather than one written with an obvious bias or agenda.
Include specific details on any injuries you suffered. Write down the place on your body that was hurt, the nature and extent of the injury and the likely cause. You should also include the name and contact information of any doctors who treated you, the name of the hospital you were taken to, the specific treatment you received and any further treatments you may require. Also include the injuries of anyone else on the scene, as well as who treated these people and how. When describing multiple injuries, it helps to itemise the details one at a time in an easy-to-read list rather than lumping them all together as one.
Prepare an accurate summation of the costs involved in the accident. Detail or estimate medical bills, repair bills and any lost or damaged equipment. Use the previous sections you filled out as evidence supporting your claims, and cite them when listing the financial impact. Here is where clarity and objectivity start to pay off: A well-documented and objective claim is far more likely to receive favourable consideration than one rife with inconsistencies or reeking of personal bias. This is especially helpful if you anticipate a conflicting report or if someone else involved is actively disputing your claims.
Tips and warnings
- Simplicity and clarity are key when writing an accident report. Keep the reader in mind as you write and ask yourself how well he can understand the points you are making.
- Stick with facts and details whenever you can. Avoid generalising terms such as "basically," "actually" or "overall," which can be unduly vague.
- If possible, take a little time before finalising your accident report. You'll likely want to fill it out soon after the accident, when the details are still fresh. However, you may benefit from letting it sit for a few days after that. It will let you put some distance from the accident and approach the details from a more objective perspective.