How to Keep an Auto Accident Diary/Journal After Being Injured in an Accident
Insurance companies can sometimes be hesitant to pay injury claims because they affect the bottom line of the insurance company. Therefore, you may encounter challenges with dealing with the insurer. The adjuster assigned to your claim will frequently dispute various aspects of your claim, ranging from who was at fault to the severity of your injuries. When you have a well-kept diary, you lend credibility to and bolster your position.
Further, it is likely that the content of your medical records, and the complaints and statements provided to your treating physicians therein, may become one of the focuses of your injury claim when you seek compensation from an insurance company. When you are thorough and painstaking in your explanations to you doctor, these descriptions make their way into your medical records and lend credibility to your position, which will diminish various vectors of attack on your credibility that you can expect from an insurance company that wants to dispute your claim on every level.
Items to Include in Your Post-Accident Journal
You should trust your own instincts on what to note in your diary, based upon your understanding of the points above. If you have counsel, you should discuss with your lawyer what the journal should include. Some of the items you may want to consider including are;
- Details of the Crash: You should be as precise as you can in describing what happened, and it is essential to write down this information as soon as possible. Make sure to jot down:
- The time, date, and location of the accident;
- Where you were coming from and going to;
- Weather and visibility conditions;
- What maneuvers you were undertaking in the moments before the impact, such as turning, slowing, stopping, or merging into traffic;
- Your speed;
- Your own drawing of the crash;
- Names and addresses of witnesses; and,
- Any other details that may be relevant.
- Your Medical Treatment: If possible, with this journal entry, you should focus on the care you received right after the crash, such as a visit to the emergency room or urgent care center. If you seek treatment the same day or within 72 hours of the collision, and you are able to do so, it is generally a good idea to notate a personal description of what you trauma you just been through. Obviously, depending on the severity of your injuries, you may or may not be able to keep a journal during this difficult time. However, to the extent you are able to, it is a good idea to record a summary of your personal experiences. You do not need to an expert describing your medical treatment, so a brief summary would be sufficient. Things to include would be your understanding of your injuries, your level of pain and emotional distress, as well as any other details you think would be relevant.
- Ongoing Treatment and Symptoms: Once you are released from emergency/trauma care, you should try continuing to journal your pain, suffering, and physical limitations. If possible, itemize every doctor’s appointment, therapy session, pain prescription, any additional treatment you receive. If your injuries prevent you from working or enjoying favorite activities, describe how these limitations make you feel. Note any symptoms regarding anxiety, difficulty sleeping, depression, and related emotional implications.
- Tips Regarding Your Auto Accident Diary: Keeping in mind the basics described above, some additional recommendations will help you keep on track with your journal.
- There is no exact requirement for how often you should enter items in your diary. You can do so as often as you have something noteworthy to say, which is of course likely to be more frequent in the days immediately following the crash.
- Keep in mind that your journal may be the subject of a discovery request from the adverse insurance company of lawyer. Though your lawyer might fight to protect it through the attorney client privilege, you may want to assume the journal could be discoverable. Accordingly, be professional in your entries, as if you were taking notes at work that you had to hand in to your boss at some point.
- It can be difficult to assess your own level of pain and put your experience into words that others understand. Some resources may help guide you in your journal descriptions. For instance, the American Chronic Pain Association offers online tools for communicating pain. The organization has developed a “pain map,” that enables you to identify where you hurt, how it feels, and the severity of the pain. In addition, Cancer.org has a downloadable “Daily Pain Diary,” that can get you started.
To learn more about your rights and remedies, please contact our Maryland or Virginia office to schedule a no-cost case evaluation. We are in a better position to advise you after we review your circumstances.