When new clients come into my office for the first time, one of the questions they nearly always ask me is how much their case is worth. That’s one question no lawyer can answer at the beginning of a case, because at that point we really don’t know how the injury will affect a person’s life. Our goal is always to fully compensate every client for all their losses, not just financial losses, but for everything else that the accident has taken from them. That’s something we need to find out as time goes by.
How Do We Make Sure Everything Lost is Compensated For?
Sometimes it’s something big, like not being able to work, play sports or do things that make up a huge part of your life. Other times, it’s a whole lot of little things that add up to a lot of disability—not being able to bend over to pick up something off the floor, being unable to help your spouse with things you have always been able to do or not being able to give your child or grandchild a piggyback ride.
The things that were important to you that you’ve lost might be different from another person’s losses, even if the injuries are similar. But whatever you’ve lost that means a lot to you needs to be compensated.
My Solution: A Record of How the Accident has Changed Your Life
How do you go about making a claim that includes all the day-to-day changes in your life so, as your lawyer, I will know to include them when evaluating your case? That has always been a challenge to me as a personal injury lawyer. How could I get a feeling for the full extent of my client’s damages so I’ll know to include them in the demand to the insurance company? There are so many things clients just don’t think to mention, because they seem small and personal.
I thought about this a lot and came up with what has turned out to be a perfect solution: I give every client I represent an injury diary. I tell them to write in the diary nearly every day and record their pain: where it hurts, how badly it hurts, and what they can’t do because of it; I tell them to record their feelings, how their disability affects family members, and the frustrations they suffer each day from not being able to do things both large and small that were part of their day-to-day life before the accident, including all the little things that we often take for granted.
For those clients who realize the importance of keeping their diaries up to date, the payoff can be great. The diary is a record that will create a picture in the mind of the insurance adjuster or every juror if we end up going to trial, showing the many ways an accident changes a person’s life—ways we they might not think about. This adds value to a case, because it allows us to include a demand for a much wider range of damages than just medical records and lost earnings, and it makes the injured person’s suffering real and understandable.
When you’ve been injured and come to me for help, you’ll get your own copy of my injury diary. When you do—use it. Write in it every day. Believe me it will be well worth the effort when it comes time to settle or go to trial.