By: Pauline Onkware and Cheryl D. Kelly, Esquire
Picture this: You have gotten into an auto accident that was not your fault and you have been injured in the accident. You have been in one of the most earth-shattering occasions of your life and as the days and weeks pass, the details of the accident start to get fuzzy. You are in constant pain and you have been to countless doctors and specialist offices, so many that you have lost track of when and what has happened to you. Your brain, which normally remembers everything in sharp detail, now will do everything it can to forget the trauma of what happened in the accident and what happened after the accident. This does not help your insurance claim because, the less you remember, the less impactful your injuries will seem. In order to paint a vivid and convincing picture of your injuries and the suffering, pain and inconvenience they have caused you, it helps to keep a journal of your injuries and treatment journey. Keeping notes about your medical condition will ensure these details are preserved.
To ensure that you get all your medical bills covered and you get some money in your pocket for this stressful event, you should keep a pain journal. A pain journal is where you document details of your injuries, treatment, symptoms, and improvement. It is helpful to document your condition daily, or at minimum weekly. People who are injuries should, at minimum, document locations of painful, old and new symptoms, pain levels, details of what happens during medical visits, track your progress and improvement, plateaus, flare-ups and regressions. The purpose of a pain journal is to document everything that happened during and after the accident which helps provide a strong defense against misinformation, lost information, forgotten information, conscious distortion, and deception by insurance adjusters and doctors. It will also help you accurately recall and report specific details of your case to your attorney, which will help your attorney draft a winning demand letter to the insurance company and if you have to go to trial help a jury or judge understand how the accident affected your life.
Pain Journal Tips:
- Make entries as often as you can. It is recommended to document your pain level and progress daily. The more detailed you are the better it is for your lawsuit. It is easier to remember what happened on the day it happened then trying to remember a day later or after the week after.
- Prepare before writing. Create a checklist to ensure you address everything you need to address in your journal entry each time. You may want to include the following in your checklist:
- Pain locations
- Pain levels (Scale of 1-10)
- Recent diagnoses
- Pain type (e.g.: aching, sharp, pain upon pressure)
- New sensations (e.g.: tingling, shaking, weakness, tiredness)
- Questions for your doctor
- Noticeable limitations (e.g.; What have you attempted to do but could not due to pain or limited range of motion?)
- Details of medical treatment
- Be detailed. Accident cases can take several months to several years to finalize. Including as much detail as possible in your journal will allow you to remember how you felt as you wrote in your journal. On the other hand, writing in shorthand, or using short, vague statements may cause your words to lose their impact and prevent you from recalling how you felt during your recovery.
- Be honest. Your journal should be consistent with your medical treatment. If you notice that your treatment and your notes are not consistent (e.g.: your doctor says you’re improving but you don’t feel like you are) mention this to your doctor and your lawyer to ensure you’re on the same page. Do not deliberately exaggerate your symptoms or make up symptoms and injuries that do not exist.
- Be Accurate. Do not shy away from being legally correct and using medical terms in your pain journal. The more accurate you are about where your pain is located and the level of your pain level the better it is for your case.
- Document your emotions. Auto accidents don’t just impact our physical bodies, they also cause emotional and mental injuries as well. Many people have mood swings, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and
- Date each entry. Do not forget to date your journal entries. This helps with creating an accurate timeline for your symptoms and improvement. Also, if you end up going to a trial in your case, it will help you to recall specific dates and appear more organized and credible.
- Set a time. Write at the same time each day so it becomes a daily habit and you do not forget to document your pain.
Overall, if you are a very diligent and detailed in your pain journal entries, they can be invaluable to your Georgia auto accident attorney. Simply logging how you feel 5-10 minutes a day could help your personal injury attorney build and strengthen your case which means more money in your pocket. For more information on how to strengthen your auto accident claim, SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CASE EVALUATION, as soon as possible after your injuries occur.