Documenting your injuries is an essential -- although often overlooked -- aspect of any successful personal injury case. Whether you are negotiating a settlement with an insurance adjuster or presenting a lawsuit to a jury, the more facts you have supporting your position, the higher the likelihood of a satisfactory outcome. There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your injuries are properly documented. Read on to learn more.
If you are injured due to someone else's negligence, seek medical attention immediately. Even if you feel that your injuries are not all that severe, go straight to the ER or your doctor. It's obviously a good idea health-wise, but it is also in your best interest to obtain official documentation of your physical condition immediately after you are injured. Your condition immediately post-injury can serve as a baseline for your condition as your case proceeds. Without immediately obtaining medical attention, you will have no concrete way of proving your condition contemporaneously with the accident.
Ask for a copy of any records, diagnoses, reports etc. generated during your first post-injury visit. While it is not necessary -- or cost effective -- to obtain a copy of every medical record created due to your injury, your initial treatment report is something that will be extremely useful to have on hand. You will be able to make copies and submit them to other parties without having to formally request medical records and deal with HIPAA and other administrative issues.
Treatment for even the most minor injury can generate an intimidating amount of paperwork. Insurance questionnaires, medical bills, explanation of benefit letters and various other administrative documents are generated upon any hospital visit.
To make things easier, create a file and save a copy of all these documents. Keeping an ongoing record of your treatment serves two purposes. First, it creates a narrative of your injury and subsequent treatment. Second, it tracks any expenditures associated with your medical treatment. Since medical expenses are reimbursable as economic damages, keeping accurate treatment records and billing records will allow you to claim every last dime you are owed.
Photograph your injuries, no matter how minor they might seem. Injuries change in appearance over time, so it is important to take photographs of your injuries as they progress or heal. If at all possible, have a picture taken of your injuries immediately after you are injured. Time-stamp the photos, and be sure to save copies (digital and hard copies are preferred). Photographs are very, very helpful when explaining your injuries to a jury. While expert medical testimony and medical records can be helpful records, nothing makes an impression like a photograph.
Recording your thoughts and impressions of your medical condition throughout your injury, treatment and recovery can be very helpful. First, it forces to you pay attention to how you are feeling. This often results in more informed, focused visits to the doctor. Doctors can key in on any issues you have noticed, thereby creating a record of even the subtlest changes in your condition.
Keeping a diary also allows you to document any mental issues you may be having. Treating physicians and injured parties alike often ignore stress, sleepless nights, confusion and other outward manifestations of mental trauma. If you focus on keeping a record of your overall condition, these seemingly innocuous manifestations of mental trauma could lead to an actual medical diagnosis, which will bolster any claim for damages you make, including one for pain and suffering stemming from your injuries.
Documenting your medical condition is an absolutely essential part of any successful personal injury claim. With a few simple steps, you can ensure that you have an illustrative factual record of the injuries you have suffered, and the progression of your condition over the course of your claim.