Personal Injury Lawyer Recommendation: Keeping a Personal Injury Journal
Keeping a personal injury journal could mean the difference in thousands of dollars in a settlement or a trial. Being involved in an accident is a stressful time, and it’s difficult to remember everything you need to when it is time to speak to a personal injury lawyer. Keeping a journal helps the attorney fight for your rights since you can’t be expected to remember everything, especially when you are trying to relay everything that happened in a short time. The journal is best kept in a three-ring binder so you are able to easily add pages to the journal.
Describe How You Are Affected by Your Injuries.
Keeping a personal injury journal or diary has one simple purpose: to thoroughly and accurately describe how your everyday activities are affected by the pain, discomfort and injuries you have sustained. Your journal should detail how you feel from the very first moment you wake up, throughout a normal day’s activities until you go to sleep at night. Explain how the way you live has been changed or altered by your pain and injuries. All days, the good as well as the bad, should be truthfully documented in your journal. Make sure you are accurate, detailed and honest in your journal entries; never fabricate or exaggerate. Even though your Orange Park accident lawyer will attempt to maintain your journal’s confidentiality, during the litigation process it may become discoverable. It may, in fact, become necessary to use your journal as a documentation of your pain and suffering. The right to recovery for pain and suffering is recognized by the law. Because of this, the manner in which your suffering, pain and injuries have influenced your job performance, disposition, emotional well-being, and marital relations, is very pertinent and important to your lawsuit. A cause of action for the way injuries may have effected marital relations is recognized by the law as well, and is known as a claim for loss of consortium. A parent-child loss of consortium is also recognized by some jurisdictions. Your Orange Park accident lawyer will advise you if yours does. If so, problems to the parent-child relationship caused by the injury or pain must be identified.
How to Document Your Injuries
Describe your suffering and pain in your own words. Record entries in your journal every day just as you would if it were not going to be used in litigation. Write down how you felt at the accident scene, while you were in the hospital, and during every day the diary is kept.
Note Each Specific Area of Your Body That Feels Pain and Discomfort
Be aware of your body and focus on how each body part feels. Record whether any body part is limited in its movement and/or experiences pain during the course of normal social or work related activities.
Record of Witnesses
When it comes to preparing for trial or settlement talks, your Orange Park personal injury attorney will need the name and contact information of any witnesses who can substantiate the facts of the accident, your pain and suffering, loss of wages, or any other consequences of your injury. Your journal should contain the personal contact information of any witnesses with respect to the accident or particular event.
In addition to the name and contact information for each witness, you should write down what each witness volunteers. Some may not say anything while others will approach you to let you know what they saw.
How to Document Your Injuries
It is also important to keep a good record of the various physicians you have visited for the treatment of your injuries. This is especially important if you have suffered serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment and must visit a number of different specialists for each type of injury. You should record the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and any other pertinent information of your physicians or health care providers.
Record of Medical Treatment and Doctor Visits
Your Orange Park personal injury attorney will also ask you to keep a log of each visit and each type of medical treatment you receive throughout your recovery phase. You also need to keep track of the nature, extent and progression of your injuries, as well as any advice your doctor gives you during each visit or treatment session. Additionally, you should keep a record of all medical bills and documentation regarding your medical treatments.
Explain Your Feelings and Emotions
The pain and discomfort you experience from your injury may affect your emotions. Your Orange Park injury attorney wants you to honestly and openly describe how these conditions affect you. It is best to avoid a consistently pessimistic attitude when writing in your journal and you would do well to avoid statements that can easily be contradicted. For instance, you may want to write “I can’t move my leg” or “I can’t sleep,” but rare is the situation where an individual is completely unable to perform these functions. Simply stating that you experience severe difficulty moving your leg or sleeping is more accurate. Exaggerated or inaccurate language will very likely be used against you by the prosecution during cross-examination. Whenever possible, your Orange Park injury attorney will want you to maintain an upbeat, positive attitude. For instance, you may experience severe pain, but it is beneficial to try to describe what you are doing to cope with it. Give examples of the efforts you are making to deal with the pain and relate what you have done so far, or are planning to do, in an attempt to alter your lifestyle to compensate for the limitations caused by your pain and suffering.
Maintain records of income loss, earning capacity loss, or other wage loss details
Make and keep copies of W-2 forms, payroll stubs, and income tax returns. If you are not able to compile these financial records, your Orange Park injury attorney will ask you to sign authorization forms that will allow him or her to access these records and assist you in keeping your records up to date. It is likely that your injuries or pain have caused, or will cause you to miss work. Whenever this happens make an entry in your journal recording the date missed, what caused you to miss work, how you were feeling that day, and if wages or benefits were lost because you were unable to work.
Keep extensive records of when you miss work due to your injury. Additionally, if your doctor releases you to partial duty, write out your normal job description and then keep a journal of what you are allowed to do on restrictive duty, especially if your employer has you doing a completely different job just so you can work. If your pay scale has changed temporarily because of the restrictive duty, keep track of the difference in pay. You’ll also want to note how many days you are expected to be on restrictive duty and how many days you are actually on restrictive duty.
Additionally, your insurance may not cover all of your medical bills. It is important that you document every penny you spend on medical-related bills because of your injury. This includes co-pays on doctor’s visits and prescriptions and anything that you have to purchase yourself because it’s not covered by insurance. Always keep receipts. For every receipt, make a copy. Keep the copy with your journal and put the original away for safekeeping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have a case?
How much is my case worth?
How long does the process take?
Can I just deal with the insurance company on my own?
How much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer in Florida?
What documents should I bring with me when I meet with a lawyer?
The rule is – the more information, the better! The more information you lawyer has, the easier it will be to decide if your case could be a success. Bring any documents that you think might be relevant, such as:
- Police reports / Accident reports
- Any eyewitness accounts obtained by the police or yourself.
- Copies of medical reports from doctors and/or hospitals
- Insurance information, including any other parties involved in an accident
- Relevant photos of injuries and/or damages
- Notes you have written down at the scene of an accident
If you need help obtaining some of these documents, you lawyer can almost always obtain them for you.
What else might my attorney need to know?
It’s important, very important, that your attorney has ALL of the facts. Otherwise, a surprise later could ruin your case. An attorney might need to know…
- Have you been involved in an accident before?
- Do you have any previous injuries?
- Have you been involved in any lawsuits in the past?
- Have you ever been hospitalized?
- Have you ever used alcohol or drugs?
- Do you have a criminal background?
- Have you ever been treated for a physiological disorder?
- Have you ever had a worker’s compensation claim before?
- What statements have you given the police and/or insurance adjustors?
- Have you ever failed to file and/or pay your taxes?
- Have you ever been known to be untruthful?
We could add many more to the list, but you get the idea. Anything…anything at all that has a possibility of hurting your case needs to be discussed with your attorney.
What is the statute of limitations on my case?
What is a deposition?
In cases of product liability, a defendant who has produced many copies of a defective product, such as a faulty tire, may face multiple lawsuits, with the jury in each case awarding punitive damages.
Are There Any Costs Not Covered by My First Coast Personal Injury Lawyer’s Fee?
Every personal injury case involves certain costs that you will be required to pay separate from your personal injury lawyer’s fee. These range from very low (if you just need to make a few copies) to hundreds of dollars (if you need experts to produce reports or if your case involves voluminous files).
Although your First Coast personal injury lawyer may agree to a contingent fee agreement (which means that he will only be paid if your case settles or results in a favorable verdict), you will be responsible for these other costs regardless of your case’s outcome. Your lawyer’s fee reimburses him for his time and helps offset some of the costs of running his business, such as renting office space, buying supplies, and paying secretarial staff, but it would not be economically feasible for attorneys to finance personal injury cases, especially when there is a chance he won’t be paid at all. You will need to discuss with your attorney what out-of-pocket costs you will be responsible for paying and whether you will pay them upfront, as the are incurred, or after the conclusion of the case. Some of the more common costs that may be encountered include:
- Fees charged by doctors and hospitals to prepare medical records. Simple copies of existing reports are cheap, but if you need your doctor to write a custom report, it is more expensive.
- Fees charged by other experts who give their opinion. While medical records are needed in almost every case, reports from other experts are necessary only in certain cases. For example, in a car accident case where the cause of the accident is in dispute, you may need an opinion from a professional accident reconstructionist.
- Costs of copies and photographs. The insurance company will need copies of your medical and employment records, and if there are photos you wish to submit, these will need to be printed and possibly enlarged.
- Costs of litigation. If your case does not settle and your First Coast personal injury lawyer needs to file a lawsuit against the person who caused your injury, there will be certain court costs you will be responsible for. If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your medical costs and lost wages. For a free evaluation of your case, please call First Coast personal injury lawyer John Fagan at (904) 278-6000.
What factors influence the value of my case?
These factors generally fall under three categories: the expenses your injury incurred, the effect on your quality of life that your injury had, and how clear it is that the insured party is liable for your injuries. The most obvious expenses incurred by your injury are your medical bills. These include bills for treatment from a doctor, therapist, or other healthcare professional, as well as the costs of any medication, prescription or over-the-counter. It also includes miscellaneous costs, such as hospital stays and ambulance fees.
It is also important to note that the insurance companies give some medical expenses greater weight than others: bills from alternative medicine practitioners, for example, are given less weight than bills from licensed doctors.
If your injury kept you from working, the wages you missed out on will also factor into your claim value. If you used sick time or vacation time while you recovered from your injury, you may be able to factor that into your claim as well. Your injuries most likely had a serious impact on your quality of life.
If your injury prevents you performing your normal household routine and renders you incapable of doing the leisure activities you used to enjoy, your settlement value may increase.
Also, any permanent disfigurement or disability resulting from your injury will also increase the value of your case.
Finally, there is the question of liability. If your evidence that the insured is responsible for your injuries is strong, the insurance company is more likely to settle. However, if there is evidence to suggest that our own negligence contributed significantly to your injury, you can expect the insurance company to resist paying your claim.
Ultimately, you will need an experienced Florida personal injury attorney to use these factors to your advantage while negotiating with the insurance companies. Call John Fagan today for a free initial consultation.
Case Value Factors to Know
How strong is your personal injury case? An Orange Park injury lawyer wants you to be aware of some legal concepts and factors to help you proceed.
Liability and Negligence
Perhaps your case is a motor vehicle accident case, slip and fall case, disability case, or medical liability case. Regardless of the category, one of the main factors in any case is going to be liability. In other words, was the defendant negligent?
If it is clear and provable that the defendant is at fault, your settlement value goes up. But if negligence is more difficult to prove, the value of your case is significantly reduced. To gauge your likelihood of success, you might view liability in terms of a percentage. For example, if liability is high and it’s crystal clear, your case may have a 90% chance of winning, which is excellent. In the mid-range of 50% to 70%, odds are fair, while less than 50% is poor.
In addition to any treating physician’s name and contact information, keep a record of that doctor’s diagnosis, the discussions you have with each doctor or nurse, what that particular doctor’s diagnosis is, and the medication he or she prescribes. Often, you will have more than one doctor treating the same thing who will tell you something different. For example, you could have one doctor tell you that a broken wrist takes six to eight weeks to heal while another may tell you up to 10 weeks to heal properly. This may be an important part of a settlement or trial, especially if your injury causes you to miss work. Add copies of your medical records from each doctor to the pages with the notes from each doctor.
Incident or Accident Reports
If you were in a vehicle accident, your Florida personal injury lawyer will request the report.
If you were injured in an establishment, ask the establishment to write an incident report and provide you with a copy. If the establishment does not do an incident report, write down how you were hurt, including the date and time. Be sure you note who was a witness and what staff and management did at the time of the incident.
Document the Accident
If you are hurt in an establishment, such as in a slip and fall or tripping accident, take pictures of what made you fall or trip. This is important as retail establishments may clean the area up and the proof is gone. Whether you tripped over a cord someone left out or slipped in a spill, take a picture of the problem. Photos will help a personal injury lawyer prove your case.
Document Your Injuries
In addition to writing out how you feel, keep receipts for doctor’s appointments, instructions for surgeries, including prep instructions, dates and times of doctor’s appointments and surgeries and documentation forwarded to you by insurance companies. Also, keep a record of your prescriptions. This includes a hand-written or typed list of what medications you were prescribed for injuries, the dosage, number of times you take the medication daily, and the length of time you must take the medication. Keep a notation of the number of refills you get.
Pain and Discomfort
In addition to keeping track of the different aches and pains, note the date of the pain and the number on the pain scale before you took painkillers. Furthermore, if the painkillers only reduce the pain instead of getting rid of it completely, note the time you took the medication, the number on the pain scale, and then the time and number on the pain scale when you notice that the pain receded or stopped.
You may show your attorney originals, but always give the attorney copies of your documents. If your personal injury lawyer needs an original, be sure you make a copy for yourself. Follow the same rules with pictures.