Pursuing a personal injury claim? Keep a diary so you don't forget. Here's how.

If you have recently been injured in a car or truck accident or other personal injury event, it is a disorienting time. You may be simultaneously grappling with insurance companies, doctors, therapists and lawyers. Then there is getting your vehicle appraised and repaired, obtaining a rental car and clearing absence from work with your employer.

If you have a capable lawyer some of this burden can be reduced but certainly not all of it. Some injuries, for example concussions, in and of themselves make thinking harder. Medications too can make you sleepy or less attentive. Not surprisingly, this can serve to inhibit your later recollection of events.

That can be problematic. Insurance companies regard time as being on their side. You need the money and they have the money. The longer the process goes on the less you will remember about the basic facts of the case, which can lead to testimony that is inaccurate and at odds with the physical facts or other evidence.

Testimony that is wrong or limited by the vagaries of memory can compromise the prospect of receiving compensation. So what is a personal injury victim to do?

The answer is keep a diary. It doesn't have to be an old-fashioned written diary but it also can be. It may be a pain to do so but the value of it is difficult to overestimate. You can use your phone or a calendar or a pad of paper, The means isn't as important as the data you keep.

So what should your " diary" include? The answer is as much detail as you choose to record.

1). Facts of the accident or injury causing incident. What time, where, how, were the police called, who are the witnesses, might video exist of it, what did the at-fault party say or do afterwards, were their skidmarks, did you take pictures, did you feel injuries and if so when?

2). Facts of the onset of any injuries. When did they start, where and how did they affect you? Did anyone else notice or did you mention them to a family member, friend or co-worker? What did you do about the injuries? When did you realize you needed medical care and what did you do about it?

3). Facts as to the progression of the injuries. Did they get worse and if so when and how? Did new parts of your body start to hurt and when? Did  whatever healthcare path you chose to take make things hurt more or less? Be aware that many injuries get progressively more painful and limiting, not less.

4). Facts as to lost time from employment. Whom did you notify, did you give them a doctor's note, what did they say? Is there light duty or some alternative to heavy work? How long were you out and were you paid sick leave, annual leave or short term disablity?

5). Facts of everyday life. Judges and jurors relate to such things and award more compensation. Did you miss your child's soccer game because of pain or because attending would have entailed a long painful walk. Did you miss a birthday party or vacation, if so why? How is your sleep, does the injury interfere? Many things are affected.

6). Pain. You can simply rate your pain every day. A 5 today and 7 tomorrow and hopefully a progression to 0 or 1. The fact that you had 3 months or 6 months or years of pain from an accident can have a dramatic impact on a cases value.

Remember the human brain is often hard-wired to erase painful or negative experiences. This is generally valuable but until your claim is settled or your case tried, retaining the negative experiences and aspects or your car accident, truck crash or personal injury event is very important.

Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer