A Personal Injury Diary: What is it and Why Should You Keep One?

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Maintaining a Personal Injury Journal 

Sometimes, people are injured through no fault of their own.

When this happens, they may have a claim for compensation.

In other words, they may be entitled to collect money for things related to the accident, such as: 

  • Lost wages for missed time at work 
  • Lost overtime wages 
  • Medical bills 
  • Transportation to and from medical treatments 
  • Prescription costs 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Durable medical equipment and 
  • Other costs related to the injury. 

Out of pocket costs can be recovered in a personal injury suit.  However, one can only receive money for proven expenses.  In addition, one can recover for pain and suffering.  When lawyers ask a jury to determine the proper amount for pain and suffering, each case is judged on the individual facts and circumstances.  As such, it is a good idea to maintain a personal injury journal after an injury. 

Understanding What a Personal Injury Journal Is 

A personal injury journal is a place for recording all information related to an injury.  Ideally, this includes, but is not limited to: 

  • each day of work missed 
  • each overtime opportunity missed 
  • all medical visits and treatments, as well as 
  • how one feels each day. 

With all the information related to the injury in one place, a fact-finder can easily review the information. This allows for a reasonable calculation of the consequences of the injury.  A personal injury journal helps a fact finder understand the injured person’s experience.  This puts the fact-finder in a better position to consider what dollar amount might be appropriate for compensation.  In most personal injury cases, the damage cannot be completely undone.  How much, for example, is the pain of a torn muscle or a broken bone worth?  However, when fully informed a fact finder can decide on a fair and reasonable dollar amount. 

What a Personal Injury Journal Looks Like 

The are several areas where a personal injury journal is useful.  One can monitor ongoing medical treatment.   One can also document the body’s response to treatment.   Finally, a personal injury journal can track healing.  What the personal injury journal looks like is up to the individual.  Ideally, a personal injury journal works for the user.  A notebook works just fine.  However, if someone is on crutches, a regular sized notebook may not be easy to transport back and forth to the doctor.  A smaller notebook may be more appropriate.  Some people prefer to keep their personal injury journal in a book designed to be a journal or journal.   Still others prefer to record the doctor visits and other data on their phone.  The key is to find a system that works for the person hurt.  An empty personal injury journal doesn’t help anyone. 

What a Personal Injury Journal Should Contain 

Medical Visits and Lost Work 

A personal injury journal should include all information relating to the injury.  Obviously, a personal injury journal should include all doctor visits.  If the Doctor recommends a certain treatment, such as exercises, or seeing a specialist, the personal injury journal should document these recommendations.  The journal should also document following those recommendations to the letter.  For example, if the doctor recommends doing a certain set of exercises three times a day, each time the person performs the exercises, they should record this in the personal injury journal. 

Each day of work missed should also be documented in the journal.  In fact, the journal should include any time taken off work, even if only 30 minutes, to go to a doctor’s appointment, physical therapy visit, or other visit relating to the injury. 

The journal should include costs of prescriptions.  In addition, one should document any costs for durable medical equipment.  This might include a back brace, crutches, or items to assist in the shower. 

Pain and Suffering 

Make certain the personal injury journal documents pain experienced.  First, figure out a scale, such as a scale from 1 to 10.  In this example, 1 means feeling fine, while 10 means experiencing extreme pain.  5 represents an ability to do daily tasks, but not without significant pain.  An entry may look like this: 

  • Woke up at 6:00 am with leg throbbing.  Pain level is a 7. 
  • Took pain meds before getting out of bed.  Pain level at 7:00 am is a 4. 
  • Could not drive children to school due to pain meds. 
  • leg pain increased to an 8 at 3:30 pm.   
  • Took more pain meds.  Pain reduced to 5.  
  • Iced leg as Doctor ordered for 20 minutes.  Pain reduced to 3. 

A personal injury journal should reflect the pain experienced at least daily during the healing process.  However, often people note their pain levels more than once a day in the beginning. This is because, when taking pain meds, the level of pain can vary quite a bit over the course of a day. 

Quality of life issues often present themselves while one is recovering from an injury.  For example, one might miss out on coaching their daughter’s soccer team due to an injury.  Or a parent may not be able to physically pick up their child.  Memory issues may make it impossible to work the way someone used to work.  All of these events have a place in a personal injury journal. 

Mistakes People Make 

Two frequent mistakes people make when dealing with a personal injury are overstating their pain,and understating their pain.  This is understandable.  However, for the purposes of obtaining compensation for actual pain and suffering, an accurate record of one’s experience is critical. 

When recording pain, take some time to consider the scale in place.  Not every day is going to be “horrible pain,” but some might be.  Remember, healing isn’t always linear.  Even if you feel fine for a few days, continue scoring your pain in your journal until you are certain you have healed.  If your injury is limiting your ability to live a full life, document this in great detail.  These details provide the fact finder with the information they need. 

The other most common mistake is not keeping up on recording ongoing hassles related to the injury.  If a family member or friend enters the information for you, this is perfectly okay, as long as they are writing down your thoughts and experiences.  The important part is recording the information in real time. 


If you are a loved one is hurt, contact O’Brien & Ford.  We are happy to meet with you and your family for free to discuss whether you might have a case.  We maintain regular office hours.  However, we can also meet you at a place convenient for you.  Call us today at 716.330.2901. 




Summer Fun Safety

Summer Fun By A LakeSummer is here and it’s time to pull out the bathing suits, tanks, and shorts and put away the sweaters, gloves, and scarves.

Children and young adults are out of school for summer break, and there are many fun recreational activities to do when the sun is shining bright.

However, you should always think ahead and take precautions to avoid injuries and property damage to yourself and others. 

Traveling with Trailers

Driving is dangerous because accidents can happen at the blink of an eye. Driving with multiple luggage and a trailer makes driving even more dangerous. Your visibility may be blocked, and you will be driving with more weight than you are typically used to. When you travel with a trailer attached to your car, things to always check and remember are to: 

  • Make sure the trailer is well-attached to your vehicle.
  • Use the correct ball and hitch receiver.
  • Always use safety chains.
  • Whether electric or hydraulic, make sure your brakes are working properly.
  • Make sure your lights, blinker, and brake lights work.
  • Invest in extended mirrors that attach to your factory mirrors to see what is behind your trailer.
  • Make wider turns.
  • Have a person spotting you when backing out.

Recreational Activities

Traveling to and from your destination is not the only safety concern. Whether you prefer to jet ski or boat out on the open water or drive ATVS or SUV’s out on some sand dunes. All these recreational activities can be dangerous. With all activities, make sure that you keep an eye out for other people, boats/jet skis/ATVs/vehicles, animals, and objects. More specifically to each activity mentioned: 

When jet skiing: 

  • Make sure you have the bracelet attached to the emergency stop on your wrist at all times.
  • Be cautious of your speed and the waves, as those can easily knock you off.

When boating: 

  • Keep a watchful eye on speed limits, no wake zones, and manatee zones.
  • Make sure your anchor is secure before leaving your boat.

With ATVs: 

  • Make sure to always wear a helmet.
  • Make sure you know how to use your ATV (for example, know where your brakes and clutch controls are).

With SUVs: 

  • Make sure your vehicle is well-maintained, working properly, and can handle the terrain you plan to drive on.
  • Know your vehicle’s limitations.


Camping is a fun activity for kids and adults of all ages. Whether you are in a public or private campground, there are still precautions and dangers that you should be aware of: 

  • If you start a fire for s’mores or warmth, make sure your fire does not spread or get out of hand.
  • Always put your fire out before heading back to your tent or camper.
  • When grilling, double check to make sure that the grill is off when you are finished cooking.
  • Be cautious of dangerous wild animals, such as bears or other potentially dangerous animals in your area.
  • Wear mosquito and bug repellent to avoid severe and/or painful stings and bites.
  • Keep your personal property secure to avoid it from getting stolen.

Legal Help

If you are injured or your property is damaged by an accident or someone else’s fault, do not hesitate to call our team of legal experts at O’Brien & Ford, PC. We will listen to what happened and advise you on what you should do next. Call (716) 330-2901 for a free consultation about your case.