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Good advice.

Good advice.

What Should You Keep In Your “Pain Diary”?

DBM Law Blog

Most people know that after injuries suffered in an accident, you should keep track of your symptoms. Even before legal advice, people have entered notes on their phones, written in scratchpads and note pads. Usually, the information kept is very detailed early on. After a few weeks, entries become sporadic. Usually after a month or so, the note taking stops.
Since a lawsuit isn’t started for up to 2 years after an accident, when the time comes to answer detailed questions about injuries and activities affected by the accident, most people just can’t remember important facts.
At the scene of the accident
Take down the other driver’s name, driver’s license number and most importantly, their plate number. Note the location of the accident and try to get the name of a witness. There is no need to record how you are feeling.
The “acute phase”
In the 2 months after a mild or moderate injury, your symptoms are at their worst. Take care to record the types of activities that bother you, what chores you needed help with and who helped you. Record details of missed work and missed job opportunities such as overtime. Be sure you keep track of expenses, not only to help get reimbursement, but also to help show the extent of your injuries. For example, a taxi receipt may also help prove that you couldn’t drive.
There is no need to record when you went to the doctor or to therapy. Your care givers will record all dates, your complaints and their treatment.
However, your employer usually won’t record the days you missed due to an accident, they may just note that you were “off”. ICBC will need proof you were off due to injury, and not the flu. Also, record changes to the way you do your job to account for your injuries, and who helped you with your work.
As you begin to get better, record when you restart activities like house chores, going to the gym, running or returning to hobbies. When you take vacations, take down changes to your usual activities and modes of travel that are related to your pain
The “long haul”
Once you have achieved some recovery and stopped most of your treatment, your pain diary must record any ongoing effects of the injury. Otherwise, you will be guessing at answers to most of the usual questions ICBC will have as the court case gets underway; such as: “how often per week did you have pain a year after the accident”, or “how often was your sleep disrupted”. This is the phase most pain diaries fall by the wayside.
I suggest keeping a calendar on the fridge and trying to keep a few shorthand notes when an injury related consequence comes up. Just a few words will be enough to jog your memory later; such as “had to turn down bowling”, or “movie hurt back”. Even a note such as “BP” for back pain when you have a bad day will help. When I had a back injury from an accident, I would write occasional notes like these. When ICBC called a year later to settle they asked how long my symptoms lasted, and I checked back with my calendar notes. I was amazed at how much trouble I had recorded many months after the accident; like “BP” or “hurt after painting”. It helped me get a much better result, since I had forgotten so much.
And my clients who have written a few simple notes every few days are clear, responsive and effective witnesses when ICBC asks them about pain frequency estimates, changed lifestyle patterns and day to day consequences of an injury.
Our minds are built to forget about the “bad stuff”, and most questions about an accident are asked 2 or 3 years later. The system depends on accuracy, and if you just don’t record what problems you had and how often you had those problems, you will contradict yourself, or simply have nothing to say.
Want to make recording easy? The DBM Personal Injury App has all the tools you need to take down information at the scene of the accident, keep a pain diary and share that information with your lawyer at Drysdale Bacon McStravick.
Post by Christopher R. Bacon


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