As part of the evidence gathering process, your attorney may ask you to keep personal records about the accident and how it affected you and your ability to live life. Most people do this by writing about their experiences in an accident diary or log.
- Your version of events on the day of the accident
- Document the weather conditions on the day of the accident
- How were you feeling after the accident? Were you in any pain?
- What did the medical provider say when you were checked out the day of the accident?
- How did you feel the day after the accident? Do you have any new injuries?
- Were you able to go to work and keep up with your daily responsibilities?
- Were you able to drive your car?
Continue recording as the days go by. You can write about the following things:
- Visits to the doctor
- Medications taken
- Time spent at the doctor
- How you feel
- Medical expenses
- Emotional trauma after the accident
- Missed time at work
- Your ability to keep up with daily tasks
- Damage to your vehicle
- Time spent at the body shop or getting a rental car
- Repair costs
Record anything you think is relevant in your accident diary, or anything your attorney asks you to. Remember that each case is different.
Your attorney may give a form to fill out each day or week. If you cannot keep track of that, do not worry. It is more important that you keep the accident diary in a way that works for you, and that you keep it consistently. You can keep the records in a private blog, leather journal, spreadsheet, or on your phone. Just do what works for you.
Never lie in your log. You may think it will help you get a bigger settlement. Lying is just going to make you and your attorney look like idiots in court. The easiest thing to do is to tell the truth and try to keep it all straight by never embellishing your story.
You may think that you can write it all down later, but you cannot. I can tell you from personal experience that the human brain forgets things. It so much easier to write down the things you need to remember the day they happened rather than later. In personal injury litigation accurate records matter. Write down your experiences, feelings, missed days at work, and expenses as soon as they happen. It makes it so much easier to prove your claims and get the settlement you deserve.
Your accident diary should only take up minutes of your day. If you find yourself spending hours writing out every minute detail of your doctor’s visit and painful walk down the stairs, then you are trying too hard. Your log should not interfere with your other daily tasks.
Be prepared. You will be sharing these records with your attorney, and while you are protected by attorney-client privilege, your attorney is going to need to share your observations with the other parties involved. Do not include intimate musings in your personal injury diary unless you plan have a conversation with your attorney about what can be shared and what must be kept private.
I know I just told you that your personal injury notes may not remain completely private. Just remember that you are in the middle of a legal process, and that all documents should remain somewhat private. Do not publish your log on the Internet, on your social media profile, or on a public blog. If you do that you will waive any attorney-client privilege you might have had. It is best to keep your log between you and your attorney with the knowledge that the entries may be read in court one day.