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Documentation, Documentation, Documentation

     To the insurance company and to a jury, if it’s not on paper it didn’t happen.  I spent four years in the army prior to doing personal injury law.  The army documents everything.  If you’re late to PT in the morning, they document it.  If you go to sick call, they document it.  Everything is documented.  Your performance at work is documented.  When you get out is documented.  Everything is documented and written down.  When you get out of the army they’ve got a huge file on you that covers everything.  That’s how a bodily injury claims process is handled.  Everything needs to be documented.  If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen. 
 
      If you go in front of a jury and say you were in pain for weeks and weeks and it’s not documented in the medical records, it didn’t happen.  If you say your knee hurt for weeks after the accident, but the first time it’s documented in the medical record is at six weeks after the accident, that’s the first time you had pain.  Everything has to be documented.  When you go to your medical providers, tell them everything that hurts.  Be specific, talk about the types of pain.  Is it throbbing pain?  Is it constant?  Does it run?  How does it feel?  Be specific; tell them everything that hurts.  If you’re seeing your back doctor and your knee hurts, tell him your knee hurts.  He can at least document it.  He may not be able to treat it, but he can document it.  This will result in it being considered by the insurance company.  You also need documentation that you could not go to work.  We ask for clients to document their mileage to go to and from the doctor.  We ask them to document their pain and suffering.  I tell them go buy a cheap notebook at Wal-Mart.  Every day after the accident, write about how you feel, write about what hurts, write about what you couldn’t do and the impact it had on you.  The first reason is we’ll have something to talk about with specifics to the insurance company about your injuries and what you could and couldn’t do.  Two, if we have to file a lawsuit in your case, years down the road you’ll be able to read it and remember the impact the accident had on you.  Three, if you have specifics it’s easier for us to get people who can testify about your injuries and the impact they had on you.  If you talk about the fact that you missed your fishing trip with your Uncle Joe, we can call him as a witness and he can say, “Yeah, we had a trip planned.  It was scheduled.  We weren’t able to go.”  The more documentation you have, the better able your attorney is to maximize your case.  It’s better to have too much documentation than too little.  I can always take out but I can’t make anything up.  I can always tell you it’s not something we need, but if you don’t have it I can’t look at it.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia