Helping Your Attorney Get the Best Outcome For Your Claim
You have gotten through the initial shock of being involved in an accident and have determined that you will pursue a legal claim. Do you know what your part will be in this process?
Your attorney will need as much information as possible. You will be your attorney’s best source for information needed to win your case. Approach this as though you want to write down everything that has happened to you since your accident including how you recovered.
If all of your information is documented you will be able to hand the documents to your attorney making life easier for you and the attorney. Anything related to the accident should be documented. You are gathering evidence that will be used in court and if you don’t write things down you are likely to forget details. Details are important and are easy to forget.
Create a health log. Immediately after the accident starts documenting your symptoms, be specific about your symptoms, rate your pain level. Make daily entries in your health log to track your recovery progress.
You should include all medications you take in your health log. When recording medications are specific; list name of the medication, the dosage, what the medication is for, how often you take it, the date you started taking the medication and the date you completed the medication. If you are given pain medications record the specific name of the medication, dosage and frequency. This is important as supporting evidence of your injury.
If you are required to wear any kind of brace such as a hard cervical collar record this and make a picture. If you have any casts make pictures of those. Record self-treatment such as putting ice or heat on an injury or physical therapy exercises you do at home including how often you do the PT exercise. Make sure you keep the PT order and any papers that describe the exercise.
If you are referred to a specialist add details of this to your health log. What kind of specialist, what symptoms required you to see this specialist. Include as much information as possible to assist your attorney in preparing your claim. Providing the specialists’ name, area of specialty, address, and phone number would be great.
Create an expense report. The expense report should include all out-of-pocket expenses this is very important as these expenses will likely be covered in your settlement. Even if the amount you record is small, over time these add up and you are likely to forget the individual expenses. Record how much you spent, the date you spent it, where you spent it and what you purchased. Record the number of miles to and from all of your medical appointments including appointments for procedures and tests.
Don’t forget to include any doctor order physical therapy visits. Many places that charge for parking include this in your expense report. Record any meals you ate because you were at the appointment. If you had to stay overnight at a hotel make a note of the name of the hotel, date you stayed and keep the receipt.
Create an activity log. If your injuries cause you to miss any activities that you had planned prior to the accident you should make sure your attorney is aware of these. For example, if you miss a prepaid vacation or scheduled family event these are categorized as events that have monetary value and will be considered when evaluating your losses due to the accident.
Create a loss record. This should include any work time you missed even if you used sick time or vacation. If your doctor tells you not to work retain a copy of that order. You should record the total number of days you missed work due to the injuries. If you are no longer able to do your job because of the accident it is very important you inform the attorney of this loss.
Record any loss of enjoyment i.e. you can no longer enjoy the activities you do for fun like hiking, biking, etc.
If there are things you can no longer do for yourself such as self-care, bathing, house cleaning, laundry, food preparation, lawn mowing, etc. include these in your loss record. Include these items if you can still do them but you have increased pain with the activity. If you have to hire someone to do these things for you, record the name of the person you hired, the date they worked for you, and how much you paid for the service.
Keep copies of all paperwork you are given. If you are given written doctors’ orders retain copies of these orders. When you get receipts for out-of-pocket purchases keep these receipts. Keep receipts for parking at appointments, if you have to pay any medical bills keep copies of those bills.
Create a log for all information not covered in the lists above that you should share with your attorney. If you move your attorney needs your new address. If your phone number changes make sure you contact your attorney. Keep communication channels open! Your attorney cannot mount a good case if you cannot be found.
If you are involved in a second accident, notify your attorney immediately.
If you are injured in any way your attorney needs to know about those injuries. Record how, where and when you were injured as well as the extent of the new injuries. Addition injuries generally hurt your case as the opposing attorney will argue that all your injuries were a result of the second incident. Documentation will help to keep things on track here. Consider returning to the original doctor after the second incident and get a new evaluation. Then the original doctor will have all of your injuries documented with relevant dates.
Generally speaking keeping track of your pain, suffering, inconveniences, and the general loss of enjoyment of life will assist your attorney in negotiating your settlement. By providing written documentation you will give your attorney the ammunition to get the best possible settlement.