Some personal injury lawyers advise their clients to keep a pain diary. At Hoogbruin & Company we disagree.
We advise our clients that if prior to the car crash they were in the habit of keeping a diary or journal and they found some benefit in doing so then they should continue with that practice. If after the car crash a medical professional such as their family physician or a psychologist or counselor has recommended that they keep a diary or journal for therapeutic purposes, or, if on their own accord our client desires to keep a diary or journal for therapeutic purposes, then they should do so.
However, they should not keep a diary or journal simply for the purposes of the ICBC case/lawsuit. At Hoogbruin & Company we believe that you should not alter your life or lifestyle specifically for the purposes of your case other than to follow the advice of your medical professional. Your main goal is to get back to living life.
We understand why some personal injury lawyers advise their clients to keep a journal or pain diary – the document can be used months or years down the road to refresh a client’s memory when required. We think there is a better way of doing that.
The better approach, in our view, is to think of the notes taken by your family physician and other medical professionals as your diary. When you see your medical professionals they will take notes of what you tell them. Your personal injury lawyer will get copies of those records. At Hoogbruin & Company we will have those records transcribed, typed, and put in chronological order and we will review those records with you when necessary. You will not be expected to memorize anything or even to understand all the medical terms. But reviewing the document will refresh your memory about things that were happening long before a mediation or trial.
It is important each time you see your treating medical professionals to tell them as accurately as possible how you are feeiling without exaggeration or minimizing how you are feeling. It is good to be organized in your presentation for every visit. You could start from the top of your head and go down to the tips of your toes or you could start with your most serious symptom to your least serious symptom. The point is to be organized.
The downside to keeping a journal or pain diary is that a copy of the document will likely have to be provided to ICBC’s lawyer and the document could be used against you in settlement negotiations or at trial. In our experience people who keep diaries or pain journals start out in the first few days and perhaps months carefully writing down how they are feeling every day, but soon discover that they are writing the same thing over and over again. Soon the person tires of writing the same thing every day and starts to abbreviate their notes and then starts to skip days. ICBC’s lawyer will try to use the document to say that the person’s pain is improving when in fact that is not really the case; they simply got tired of writing the same thing every day.
If you are complete and accurate every time you provide a history to your treating medical professionals then their notes will be complete and accurate. Those notes then, when typed and put in chronological order can be used to refresh your memory when needed.