Validating any car crash claim is challenging, particularly when victims seek compensation for long-term damages and pain and suffering.
There are concrete ways to prove the value of economic damages, such as medical costs or lost wages. The value of non-economic damages, however, such as pain and suffering, is much more subjective. The victim’s own description of the effects of his or her injuries is a central element of a claim for compensation.
That is why attorneys may sometimes advise victims to keep a journal to track and discuss the effects of their injuries. For example, victims can describe the anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges caused by their injuries. They can also explain how their injury prevents them from doing activities they used to enjoy before the accident.
Below, the experienced Fort Worth auto accident lawyers at Anderson & Cummings discuss injury journals, including what they should include and how they may strengthen a claim for compensation. There are no upfront fees with our services.
What Should Crash Victims Include in a Journal?
A personal injury journal could include a variety of information. The victim’s attorney can advise him or her on what to include, based on the details of the claim. For example, say the victim wants to seek compensation for emotional damages. In this situation, the victim’s attorney may recommend the victim write about his or her emotional state each day.
Here are other critical topics injury victims should cover in a personal injury journal:
Details About the Crash
It is easy to forget what happened during the crash and in the minutes and hours that followed. You may think you have a great memory, but even people who remember things well can forget important details, such as:
- Why you were in the car when the crash happened
- What you were doing just before the crash: speeding up, slowing down, turning, etc.
- What the weather was like
Taking just a few minutes to write down some basic details could be vital to the success of your claim. Take note of when and where the crash happened. Record information you exchanged with the other driver, such as name, address and insurance information.
It may also be helpful to diagram your memory of the crash. For example, you can draw out the positions of the vehicles. Sometimes it is easier to explain something with a drawing than with your words.
You do not need to write down your specific diagnosis and all the details of your injuries. This information will be noted in your medical records. It is more important for you to describe how your treatment is going.
For example, do you think the treatment is working? If you are taking medication, write down the side effects and how you feel while taking it. Are your injury symptoms improving? Are you regaining strength or mobility? Is the pain decreasing or getting easier to manage?
You should also note any symptoms you experience from the injuries, including how those symptoms progress over time. This can be particularly helpful when you need to establish that your injury symptoms have gotten worse or are taking a long time to improve.
You can also keep a record of all the times you have gone to the doctor. Write down the name of the doctor, reason for seeing the doctor, date and time of the appointment and the result of the appointment.
Sometimes injured victims keep all their medical bills and receipts in their journal so they are all together in one place. You do not want to lose track of this documentation. You cannot recover compensation for medical expenses unless you have documented proof, such as an invoice.
Mental Health Issues
There is no concrete way to establish the value of damages for mental health issues. There are bills for medical treatment, but the only bills you could receive that would document mental health issues are bills for prescription medications or appointments with therapists.
If you have depression, anxiety or sleeplessness related to your injuries, you can describe how it is affecting you. For example, if you are having trouble getting out of bed and doing things you used to do because of your anxiety or depression, note this in the journal. Multiple journal entries about your mental health challenges help to show their severity.
Sometimes people suffer post-traumatic stress after a crash. This causes them to avoid driving or avoid going anywhere near the crash site. Explaining this issue in detail helps to prove that it is occurring and ongoing, especially when there are multiple journal entries describing it.
People may also write about how their mental health counseling is going and if they are finding it helpful in managing their psychological health.
How the Injury Affects Your Ability to Work
If you cannot go back to work or you are limited at work, explain the issue in more detail:
- What can you not do?
- Do you need to sit down more often?
- Can you only work a few hours?
- What do you need to do to avoid aggravating your injury or causing pain?
You can get documentation from your employer about the days and hours you missed at work. However, the insurance company may still try to deny your lost wages claim. This is where details about your limitations at work could be helpful. When you pair these journal entries with medical records in which doctors document the symptoms you are experiencing, you may have a much stronger case.
How the Injury Impacts Your Daily Routine
Are you unable to take part in the activities you once enjoyed, such as playing sports, playing a musical instrument, playing outside with your children, or doing things around the house? Noting these things in a journal helps to validate a claim for lost enjoyment of life and lost companionship.
If you need help around the house, including with activities of daily living, such as eating, drinking, showering and getting dressed, write it down in the journal. This helps to show the severity of your injuries on a daily basis.
Could Your Journal be Used Against You?
It is important to note the contents of a journal are not confidential. If a lawsuit is filed, the other side can request your journal as part of the discovery process, and you will have to provide it.
That is why it is important not to start a journal without the consent of your attorney. If you have already started a journal, you should inform your attorney so he or she knows what is in it. Your attorney may also be able to advise you on some strategies for keeping the journal private.
When you are writing in your journal, do not exaggerate or lie about anything. This could hurt your credibility. You may be concerned about some of the information in your journal. However, you should never destroy any of it because it could be considered destruction of evidence. If you are concerned about something, talk to your attorney about it. These conversations are covered by attorney-client privilege.
Contact Anderson & Cummings Today to Discuss Your Crash
With more than 50 years of combined experience, we are ready to help you seek full compensation for the damages you suffered. We know how to validate claims by gathering strong evidence of damages, including non-economic compensation.
We do not charge upfront fees for our services and the initial consultation with an attorney is 100 percent free of charge.
Call us to discuss our services. We are ready to help: (817) 920-9000.