From the day of the crash forward keep a journal. This has to do with gathering evidence. Keep a journal that tracks the symptoms that you are experiencing. Try to rate your symptoms on a scale from 1 to 10. Try to be thorough and talk about all of your symptoms in your journal.
Be sure and bring your journal to your doctor’s offices and report your symptoms and what you have written in your journal to your doctor so that those journal items get into the medical records. Keep track of all the healthcare providers that you see. One of the worst things in my practice is when my clients don’t remember all the healthcare providers that they’ve been to.
Your lawyer will need to go get the medical records and bills from all the providers that you see during your treatment. If you lose track of or forget some of those healthcare providers your demand package will be incomplete, so it’s vital during your injury claim to keep track of all the healthcare providers and facilities that you go to so that you can assist your lawyer in getting a complete record of your treatment.
Keep track of specific ways that the injuries have affected your life. I always love it when my clients give me specifics such as: “My injuries caused me to miss a prepaid vacation,” or “my injuries caused me to miss a family reunion or my niece’s graduation.” These are once-in-a-lifetime events that have monetary value in the settlement, but have zero monetary value if your lawyer didn’t know about them.
Assist your lawyer by keeping track of your pain, suffering, and inconvenience, and the general loss of enjoyment of life. Cite specific examples, such as: “I no longer find enjoyment while mowing the lawn. My pain levels increase when I do housework.” Also, tell your doctor about those specifics and make sure they get into your medical chart. Doing so will help your lawyer have more ammunition when negotiating your settlement.
Keep track of medications that you take. These can be costly out-of-pocket damage items that if not tracked will not get into your damage claim.
Additionally, keeping a complete record of the medications you take will make your case more convincing. For example, it’s more convincing to argue that somebody experienced pain and suffering if their doctors prescribed Oxycodone or Percocet or Norco, but if there is no record that you actually took those powerful pain medications then the case is less convincing. It is up to you to keep track of all such medications.
Keep track of self-treatment. For example, did your doctor prescribe that you wear a hard cervical collar? If so, make sure that you keep a record of that. Maybe take a picture of yourself in the collar. Are you engaging in putting ice packs on the injured parts of your body? Keep track of that, tell your doctors and make sure the doctors put it on record.
Keep track of lost earnings. If you have been ordered off work by your doctor get a copy of the doctor’s note taking you off work. That is evidence in your case. Next, keep track of all the days that you missed work. Even if you used sick days or vacation days, you may be entitled to the daily rate of your compensation, so keep track of all days that you took off from work.
Be sure to keep track of all out-of-pocket expenses that you incurred, as they may be part of your damage claim.
Be sure to stay off of social media or to keep your social media posts about other people, not about yourself. Do not talk about the crash on social media. Keep your social media posts suitable for people of all ages, what I call rated G, and refrain from talking about athletic accomplishments or other activities that would suggest that you are not as injured as you claim you are.
Keep your lawyer apprised of any new information. For example, if you move, tell your lawyer your new address. If you have been referred to a specialist like an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon or a pain management specialist, make sure your law firm knows about that.
Remember, your lawyer has to go get records and bills from every healthcare facility that you attend. So if you have been referred to a new specialist, do not assume your lawyers know about that. Tell them.
Tell your lawyers if you’re involved in a subsequent crash. For example, let’s say that you are injured in a crash on January 1 for which you are represented by a law firm. If on February 1 you get into a new car crash or other type of injury-producing event such as being injured in an intramural volleyball game or while riding off-road vehicles in the desert, tell your law firm. They need to know about any subsequent injuries that you suffer.
Those injuries generally hurt your case and if the insurance company finds out about them, they are going to argue that your injuries all stem from this second or subsequent event and not the first event for which you are being represented by the law firm. So whenever there is a subsequent injury, tell your law firm about that so they can deal with that information.
Make sure that you dedicate yourself to your medical treatment. Nothing hurts a case more than somebody who is not committed to their medical treatment and misses appointments or has long, unexplained gaps of time between doctor visits. So be sure to commit yourself to your treatment by being a model patient. Follow all your doctor’s orders.
All of the above are ways in which you can help your lawyers get a better case outcome for you. Success does not happen by accident. It is usually the result of coordinated effort and teamwork. Don’t forget, you are part of your own success team. Your team also includes your doctors and your lawyers. But you are the only one in control of your effort and your attitude. So be an excellent team member and do your job to the best of your ability.
Meet the Author
Gordon Levinson is a former insurance defense and personal injury attorney. He has represented some of the largest insurance companies in North America. Over the course of his career, Mr. Levinson has successfully represented more than 3,000 unique clients. Now, he owns and operates the Levinson Law Group, a practice specializing in representing the victims and family members of life-changing tragedies. In 2015, he published an eBook on how to deal with the aftermath of a vehicle collision. Mr. Levinson enjoys spending time with his wife and children. He also spends much of his free time traveling and coaching youth basketball.