Lawyer discussing legal documents with injured client

Documenting Details of Your Injuries and Pain

Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley March 21, 2023

There is a saying that “time heals all wounds.” However, the value of your personal injury claim is based on the journey from injury through settlement or verdict. Since memory can fade with time, documenting your injuries and the physical and emotional pain they cause may preserve your claim.  

You don’t have to be a great writer to do this. The personal injury attorneys at Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, LLC will guide you. If you have been injured in Durango, Telluride, Pagosa Springs, or Cortez, Colorado, or anywhere in The Four Corners, we can help you tell your story.   

Why Is Documenting My Injuries and Pain Important? 

Documenting your pain and injuries after an accident is important for three key reasons. 

First, it provides a record of events as they occurred in real time. Documenting this information as it happens will more accurately reflect the physical and emotional situation in the moment.  

Second, it aids you in recalling what injuries you suffered and how they affected your life weeks, months, or years after the accident. Referring to your journal during a deposition or court testimony, or while crafting a settlement demand, can be invaluable. You won’t need to rely solely on your memory to tell your story. For example, your car accident attorney can refer to your documentation to communicate the gravity of your injuries, pain, and suffering when writing the settlement demand to be submitted to the negligent party’s insurance company.  

Third, it gives you a list of topics you can discuss with your doctor, therapist, or another healthcare provider during your visits. When you do, your provider will include that discussion as part of the medical or treatment record. Medical records hold far more weight with insurance companies and juries than your statements will on their own. 

The important issue is to take the time to document as often as you need to. In the early stages, you will probably document your pain and injuries every day. As you begin to recover, you may document less, but it is vital that you continue to do so every time you experience the repercussions of the accident in any way.  

What Should I Include in My Injury Documentation? 

You should include anything related to your injuries and pain, physical or otherwise, so long as you are comfortable with disclosing it. Your journal, photos, and notes will be discoverable by the defendant and their attorneys when you file a lawsuit. So will your medical records, and much of that information may overlap.  

You should have written documentation, but also take photos of injuries at stages throughout the healing process. You should have a visual record of wounds when they are fresh, as they heal, and what they leave behind. With every photo, you should record how it feels, physically and emotionally in that moment.  

Document limitations, frustrations, and accommodations you must make because of your injuries. Talk about what it is like to have to rely on someone to help you bathe or dress, for example. Address the financial worries you are experiencing because you can’t work or because healthcare providers are hounding you for payment. The more you lay out what is going on in your life since the accident, the more compelling your case will be.  

Should I Include Documentation of My Mental Health? 

Documenting mental trauma after an accident is extremely important. Few people can just “shake it off” and keep going. Once the adrenaline rush caused by the accident subsides, you will experience a range of emotions due to the damage done to you physically and mentally.  

Although each person will experience a unique combination of mental trauma, there are some common ones, including: 

  • Stress from being unable to do the things you normally can while you are injured: This includes going to work, taking care of your children, and wondering how you will pay your bills until you receive a settlement or jury award; 

  • Confusion in the more immediate aftermath of the accident: Confusion is common when the adrenaline stops and you are being questioned by law enforcement and examined by emergency responders. You will start replaying the accident over and over in your mind, grasping for details. Writing down an account of what happened as soon as you can after the accident is not only helpful to the accident investigation, but may be therapeutic for you as well; and, 

  • Anxiety about your physical and emotional health and your financial future, which is often accompanied by depression: Many accident victims find themselves unable to put themselves in the same situation again. For example, a car accident victim may experience too much anxiety to get into a vehicle, even if they are not operating it.   

It is important that you address and document your mental health just as you do your physical injuries. Mental trauma is compensable in personal injury claims.  

Compassionate Legal Guidance 

You will be going through so much after being injured in an accident. Retain personal injury attorneys who will do the work required for your claim so you can focus on recovering from your physical and emotional injuries.  

At Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, LLC, that is precisely what we do for our clients. We will treat you with the compassion you deserve and the insurance company with the full force of our experience.  

If you have been injured in or near Durango, Colorado, or in The Four Corners, call us today to schedule a free case consultation.