Personal Injury Claims: More details=More money?
How to maximize your compensation in a personal injury case by keeping a journal
I want to start out by saying that if you were injured in a car accident, I highly recommend speaking to an attorney as soon as possible.
The reason for this is that, unfortunately, most people are under the false belief that they are obligated to speak with the insurance company immediately. This is not the case. The adjusters and investigators for the insurance company know that it is in their best interest to immediately process and investigate claims. The adjusters may employ many tactics in order to achieve their goal of resolving the matter quickly. The adjusters may even go to great lengths to portray they are concerned about your welfare, including being very pleasant to deal with. While, the adjusters may be nice people, their number one priority is protecting the insurance company. They do this by finding a way to pay you as little as possible. Therefore, it is in your best interest to have an experienced advocate by your side.
If you happened to speak with an adjuster before speaking with an attorney do not feel discouraged or intimated by what you’ve heard. Some insurance adjusters will try to pressure you into signing something quickly and will often times use tactics such as minimizing your injuries or putting words in your mouth. Either way do not fret.
The truth is, adjusters do not give much weight to your words during this process, especially regarding injuries, rather they look to medical records when determining the extent of injuries suffered.
This is which is why it is so important to keep a journal following your car accident.
What is a journal?
Think of your journal as a good old fashioned diary. You want to use your journal to record your thoughts, emotions, events, circumstances, physical ailments, day to day progress, etc.
So much happens after an accident that remembering it all is impossible.
At first, you will remember every detail, and you may be so shook up by the incident that you will be convinced that you will remember all the details forever. However, unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
As humans, we tend to forget details as time goes on. Day to day life events will occur, time will pass, and eventually the memory of the accident will not be as sharp as it used to be.
The journal will allow you to memorialize these details and even more importantly, it will allow you to relax, knowing that your thoughts have been thoroughly and accurately saved in a safe place. The notes will also allow you refer back and jog your memory of details that have become unclear over time. This will alleviate the stress of having to remember everything that occurred days, weeks, months, or even years prior.
When should you start your journal?
You should start your journal immediately. I understand that sometimes this is not possible for various reasons, but if you cannot start your journal immediately, please start it as soon as you possibly can.
Once you begin writing your journal, you want to start from the very beginning. Go back to the moment you saw, felt, or heard the sounds of the accident.
What should you put in your journal?
First, start out by describing every detail of the events you experienced during the accident. Act as though you are trying to paint a picture for someone who was not there.
You want to describe the location, time, and weather conditions. Describe what you observed before, during, and after the accident.
Draw a diagram of the accident location and include all vehicles and passengers in your diagram.
Describe any events that you noticed. Were there any pedestrians walking by? Were there any witnesses? Did you exchange information? (If so write down their information). Was the driver of the other car wearing a seatbelt? Was he or she on a cell phone? Were they swerving? Did they have any passengers in the car? Were they hurt? What did they say to you immediately following the accident? Did you exchange information? Did they have insurance? Did they say anything regarding fault or liability?
What about you? Did you have any passengers in your car? Were you hurt? What did you say to the other driver or passengers? Were you wearing your seatbelt? How did you feel when you felt the car accident? Did it scare you? Did you see it coming because the other side wasn’t paying attention or did it surprise you? Did you speak with either insurance company? What did the insurance agents say to you? Were they nice? Did they try to intimidate or threaten you? Did they try to pressure you into signing away your rights or accepting an offer?
Next, document your injuries in detail. Where did you feel the most impact? Could you walk? Were you dizzy? Did you have any aches or pains? Remember, just because you may have felt fine after the accident does not mean you were not injured. Injuries can take weeks or even months to show up. This is why it is so important to document your injuries/pain/discomfort every day following the injury, not just the day of.
You’ll also want to describe the accident itself. Was your bumper smashed in? Did your door jam or get stuck? Did the windshield shatter? Was the paint scratched off? If so where? Did any of these things happen to the other car? What happened to the other car?
Of course the best thing you can do is to include as many pictures and videos as possible. We all know the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Well this phrase holds especially true in personal injury cases as no words can do justice to photos or videos from an accident scene.
Lastly, don’t discount your feelings and emotions. Often times, we minimize or write off emotions we feel when traumatic events happen to us because we think that people don’t care or that it should be obvious to others. This is not the case in personal injury cases.
Personal injury cases can be traumatic and require extensive therapy sessions. Writing down your feelings will both help you remember how you felt after the accident as well as help you to process your emotions and decide whether or not to seek professional help.
What should you do with your journal? You will want to keep your journal for your records and update it as you feel necessary. In the beginning you will want to update it daily, as there will likely be daily events to report on. As time goes on, you may decide to update it as new events occur. I recommend updating the journal as regularly as possible because your psychology will likely be affected by all that you’ve been through.
I recommend taking your journal to your doctors’ appointments so that you can clearly and thoroughly describe your injuries to your doctor in the order which they occurred.
You can also show your journal to your attorney to help your attorney understand the depth and magnitude of what you have been through and what you are currently experiencing. By keeping the journal you can ensure that every detail was covered and that you have not forgotten key information.
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