Should Injury Victims Document Their Recovery?
Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Jan 31, 2020 in Personal Injury
Days, weeks or even months after an accident, the facts about what happened quickly fade from memory. However, documenting important details can help you retain that information, strengthen your personal injury claim and add credibility to your statements to insurers.
Rizk Law explains what a pain journal is and what it should and should not include. We also explain how you may be able to protect the pain journal under attorney-client privilege.
Understanding the Purpose of a Pain Journal
A pain journal is a written record of an accident and details the emotional distress, pain and suffering that a person feels after being injured.
Pain journals also give you a way to refer back to an important detail you may have forgotten. The most useful journals will have regular daily or weekly entries, note the date and time, be neat, consistent, concise and accurate.
What Details May Add Value to a Personal Injury Claim?
Rizk Law strongly recommends that you address your pain journal directly to your attorney because then it will most likely be protected by attorney-client privilege. If attorney-client privilege applies, it can help prevent the other side from gaining access to it and trying to use it to hurt your claim.
Information that you should keep track of in your pain journal includes:
Your Account of the Accident
As soon as possible, describe your version of the accident while your memory is fresh. Details you should include are:
- The date and time of the accident
- How the accident occurred
- What you and the other driver were doing immediately before the accident
- Weather and road conditions when the crash occurred
- Details about conversations you had with the other driver, law enforcement or any eyewitnesses at the scene
Seek medical attention immediately after the accident, and include information about your initial examination and diagnosis, the dates and times of your doctor appointments, prescribed treatments, medications and all other physician instructions.
Keep track of all medical providers who provide treatment, including:
- Mental health specialists
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy professionals
One of the most important aspects about your pain journal is keeping track of your pain and suffering. Try to write in your pain journal every day to describe the physical pain, mental anguish and emotional issues you are confronting. Include a daily pain scale rating of between one and 10, with 10 being the highest.
Use descriptive words like “throbbing” or “dull” to explain the pain. Remember that a jury may read your pain journal, so it is helpful to be descriptive.
Discuss how your injuries limit your activities and affect your daily life. For example, if you are no longer able to cook or clean, note that in your pain journal. Also, discuss how the accident affected your relationship with your partner and your family.
When describing your limitations, think about how your injuries, pain and suffering have affected your:
- Sleep or eating habits
- Your ability to do or enjoy your favorite activities or pastimes
- Your ability to work or earn a living
- You relationship with friends, family or spouse
- Your mobility or ability to be independent
Information that Should NOT be in Your Pain Journal
While you want the jury to have a better understanding about the accident, the injuries you sustained and how it is affecting your life, there are some irrelevant details you should not include:
- Details that you discuss with your lawyer, such as confidential details about your claim
- Exercise restrictions – Be careful mentioning exercise restrictions. If you talk about exercising, the insurance adjuster or jury may interpret that if you are fit enough to exercise, you may be exaggerating your injuries.
- Irrelevant information – Your pain journal has a specific purpose. It is not the place to discuss personal or intimate details about your life that are irrelevant to your case.
- Anything you do not want shared – A pain journal may ultimately be admitted into evidence, so avoid including anything that you would not want the jury to read. Ask your lawyer for details.
How Your Attorney May Utilize Your Pain Journal to Your Benefit
The Portland personal injury lawyers at Rizk Law know how to use your pain journal to benefit your case. They can provide you with additional tips about what information to include in your journal and how it may be used throughout the claims process. Contact us today to learn more.