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. 

Injured? 

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. 

 

 

 

Common Wrongful Death Questions 

Wrongful death form and stethoscope on a table.What Is A Wrongful Death Claim? 

When a person passes away because of the negligence of another person, the appointed personal representative can sue on behalf of the decedent. The personal representative is often a family member, but a neutral third party may also be appointed.

If the claim is successful, the personal representative will hold the money in trust to distribute to the heirs of the decedent. The heirs of the decedent will typically be the decedent’s spouse (if married), children (if a parent), parents (if no spouse or children), or siblings (if there are no surviving spouses, children, or parents). 

How Much Can You Receive? 

In New York, while you cannot receive monetary awards for your own personal pain and suffering, you can recover for any pain and suffering that the decedent suffered. Additionally, you will be able to recover funeral and burial costs, medical costs contributed to treating the decedent up to his or her death, lost income, and the loss of value for the services, support, and parenting to close family members due to the death.

Punitive damages (to punish the defendant) are only imposed in rare cases, typically where the facts show that the defendant acted with extreme recklessness or malice.  

While you may be able to receive monetary relief for your loss, an experienced personal injury attorney will need to review the relevant facts surrounding your case to let you know whether it is worth it to sue and how much you could earn. Dollar amounts are based on the facts surrounding the death. An attorney experienced in wrongful death suits will be able to determine an estimate, as each case is different.

Specifically, cases surrounding wrongful deaths of children or elders may be more challenging because the factors that determine the amount of compensation are difficult to accurately put a dollar amount to. These factors include life and work expectancy, age and health, and reliability.  

How Long Do You Have To Sue? 

Each state has enacted a statute of limitations for when a plaintiff can file suit for different causes of actions. The reasoning behind these is to ensure that defendants are able to defend themselves without the risk of lost evidence or memory.

When too much time has surpassed, the claim is considered “stale.” Presumably, if a plaintiff has a case, he or she needs to file suit within a reasonable amount of time, which is why states have enacted these limitations to depict when a claim becomes stale.  

In New York, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is two years from the day of the decedent’s death. Therefore, if you think you may have a successful wrongful death claim, you should not delay reaching out to an attorney so that your case is timely and properly filed within the time limitation.

New York has allowed for narrow exceptions to the two-year rule, so even if you have surpassed the two-year limitation, you should contact an attorney to see if you fall within one of these few exceptions, as you have nothing to lose. However, it will always be beneficial for you to timely file rather than try to fall under an exception. 

Contact Us 

The attorneys at O’Brien & Ford are skilled and experienced in the realm of personal injury law including wrongful death claims. We understand that this is a difficult time for you, but we will be there to help you every step of the way. Do not wait or hesitate to call us at (716) 330-2901 today.