An injury accident is an extremely stressful event. Post-accident pain and anxiety can negatively affect your ability to accurately remember important accident details--details that you will need to remember to effectively make your claim to the insurance company.
The solution? After your accident, keep an on-going written journal. Write everything down in a notebook or in your computer.
Write notes about what you were doing/where you were headed just prior to the accident. Include location, time of day, condition of the surface of the road, parking lot or interior floor, traffic at that time. Who else was at the accident scene?
Then write out the details about what happened in the accident. What did you see? What did you hear? What happened first? next? and then? Describe what you know of the injuries and property damage on the scene, both for yourself and others.
Did you have pain right away? Note the area of your body that hurt and rate your pain on a scale of 0-10 where 10 is the worst pain imaginable. Who called for the ambulance? How long did you need to wait for help to arrive?
If your pain came on later that day or night or the next morning, describe what you felt and note when you contacted your doctor or chiropractor. Keep a list of all of your medical providers post accident including the dates you had medical care, the names of your doctors, their contact information, and what happened in each appointment.
Each day after the accident, note the date, the pain level in the areas of your body that were injured, any activity restrictions and your emotional state. Note changes in your normal routine due to the injuries. For example: "My back hurts if I try to put the wash into the dryer, so I have to ask for help. I can't turn my neck to look around while driving--I have to turn my whole body to see to the left or right. I am feeling frustrated and...."
Injuries affect you but also can negatively affect the life of your family members. If you cannot drive, then you cannot transport your son to his soccer matches. Maybe you cannot dance with your spouse at a friend's wedding, or accompany your family on a planned car trip. Include these details in your notes.
Keep track of the dates and hours of any time off work due to the accident. When you return to work, note any changes in your usual work tasks you need to make due to your injuries.
Each time you hear from an insurance representative, write down his or her name, telephone number, the date and a summary of what you talked about. This is VERY IMPORTANT! With this information, you can deal much better with the insurance company when making your claim for injury, car damage or other property damage and even bill payment. You probably will deal with several different insurance companies. For example, an auto case often involves three insurance companies: the liability insurance company for the at-fault party, your own auto insurance company and your health insurance company. In some accidents, there may be a workers compensation insurer, Medicare or Medical Assistance as well.
Your notes don't have to be perfect--don't worry about spelling or grammar. Just keep writing! If you cannot write due to your injuries, ask a family member or friend to help.
Writing down details as they happen is very valuable--otherwise it is likely that these details will be forgotten after a few months. Your notes will be extremely helpful if you decide to ask a lawyer to handle the claim.
As an experienced personal injury attorney, I have handled over 1000 insurance claims for people who were hurt in auto accidents, slip and fall accidents and dog bite injuries since 1993. I am always favorably impressed by clients who can provide me with their notes! These notes are a valuable tool to help me understand what the client has been through and how the accident changed the client's life. When I write the demand letter to the insurance adjuster, I strategically incorporate details from the client's notes. A key to a successful claim settlement is effective use of the client's notes!