3 Reasons to Keep a Pain Journal After an Accident
After an accident, it can be hard to keep track of all of the details. Many lawyers suggest keeping a “pain journal” to track important information, like when medical appointments occurred, which medications were prescribed, or how your injuries have affected your life.
A pain journal records key events that happened after a personal injury. Pain journals can take many forms. Some people choose to write them out in notebooks or three-ring binders. Others use their computers. There are also pain journal apps available for download.
Unlike a personal diary, a pain journal should stick to the facts: the Who, What, Where, When and How of your accident. It’s a good idea to record things on a daily basis immediately after your accident, and then less regularly as time goes on and your circumstances change.
Top 3 Reasons to Keep a Pain Journal
1. Your journal can keep track of facts that are critical to your case.
As someone with a personal injury, there’s a good chance that you will treat with many doctors and medical facilities. Over the course of your treatment, you may see EMTs, emergency room doctors, chiropractors, radiologists, orthopedists and other health care providers. Keeping the facts straight can be challenging, especially as memories fade over time, but the facts are critical to your case.
Cases are built on facts. As lawyers, we have seen over and over again how one or two key facts can shift the entire outcome of a case, meaning the difference between recovering compensation and not.
When you keep a pain journal, you will have an accurate record of all the facts. You’ll be able to look back at your journal and draw on specific details so that your lawyer can tell the insurance company, “My client was treated six times at this facility and three times at this one,” rather than “my client received treatment.” This can help strengthen your case.
2. Your journal can help your doctor treat you better.
With a written history in place, you’ll be able to give your health care providers details that can help them treat you better. You will be able to tell them which tests you’ve had, medications you’ve tried and treatments you’ve undergone. More information means that your doctor may be better able to diagnose you and find a way to help you recover more quickly.
It’s also worth noting that insurance companies generally give the information in your medical records more weight than your own testimony. If your medical records are more complete, it can help your case. As you share information with your doctor, make sure that he or she takes thorough notes.
3. Your journal can help you see how things changed over time.
Sometimes big injuries appear with only minimal signs. A symptom that you initially think is insignificant can turn out to be part of a more serious health issue. If you’re keeping a pain journal, you can look back and see when symptoms first started to appear—even if you didn’t realize the full significance at the time.
It works the opposite way, too. Looking back on your pain journal, you can see how you recovered over time. You can track how pain levels lessened, how you were better able to handle daily activities, and how where you are now is different than where you were a few months ago. This can be very encouraging. Even if progress seems slow, it helps you see that you are moving forward with your life after the accident.
Need Help Moving Forward After an Accident?
You can always talk with us about your injuries, how they affect your life and what you can do next. And, if you have already started a pain journal, be sure to share that with us. We can provide you with feedback and advice on how to keep it going to best support your care and your potential personal injury lawsuit.