The best way for accident victims to benefit their case and assist their personal injury attorney is to have a strong recollection of details regarding injury symptoms and the resulting effects on activities of daily living, personal hygiene, and leisure activities. A key, yet frequently overlooked, component to fully and effectively establish the pain and suffering portion of an accident victim’s claim is a recording, in writing or by video, of the day-to-day suffering endured by the victim as a result of the injuries caused at the hands of the negligent party.
The injury recovery process is slow and the long days of suffering will often blur together, making it difficult to provide the essential details at a later time. Also, an accident victim may have suffered an injury affecting his or her short term and/or long-term memory. A sure way, therefore, to avoid the loss of precious information is for the accident victim to keep a contemporaneous record, beginning on the date of the accident, regarding the injuries, the related symptoms, and the effects suffered. It does not have to be, nor should it be, in medical terms, but rather in layman’s terms so it can be easily reviewed at a later date. This endeavor may initially require a close friend or family member to assist the accident victim based on the level of the victim’s disability/incapacity.
The victim’s recording should provide crucial details, observations and experiences focused on the pain and suffering that he or she is enduring from their injuries. That means both physical and also mental pain and anguish. Emotional/mental injury and its effects should not be minimized or disregarded.
Each entry in the recording should detail every pain experience, how many times it is endured each day, the level of pain, and the activity that is affected. (Ex., “I tried to pick up my grandchild today to hold and be close to him, but the pain in my back prevented me from doing so. This has caused me both physical and emotional pain as I could not be close or play with my young grandchild like I had done before the accident.”) (Ex., “I was not able to sleep due to headaches and constant pain in my neck.”). (Ex., “I could not button my shirt due to the extreme pain and numbness in both hands. My husband had to assist me in getting dressed.”). The record should be in the accident victim’s own words and separate entries should be made for each time during each day that the accident victim is affected in any way by his or her injury symptoms.
The accident victim should keep this record in a manner that will allow for convenient access, review, and use at a later time. A typed or handwritten journal/diary is certainly acceptable and preferred in most situations. However, audio and/or video may be necessary under certain circumstances. Regardless of the manner of recording, the record itself must be exclusively limited and focused only on providing daily information regarding the effects of the accident victim’s pain on his or her activities of daily living, personal hygiene, and leisure activities. Keeping to that limited purpose provides a concise and relevant record that will assist the accident victim’s counsel in achieving the best possible pretrial settlement or jury award. As such, it should not be neglected, but rather treated as one of the most useful tools in ensuring a fair and just damages award.
Thank you to our friends at Willinger, Willinger & Bucci, PC for providing this article to be shared with you.