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The Importance Of Keeping An Accident Journal

Posted in Car Accidents on April 15, 2022

The smell of spilled fluids along the roadway. The sound of broken glass under the soles of shoes. Shouts ask, “Is everyone okay?” The smoke clears, and sirens roar in the distance. The chaos of a car crash, as paramedics handle the injured and emergency crews manage the scene. Rerouted traffic and rubberneckers peer on as cloudy-headed witnesses give statements to police for accident reports. 

The last thing anyone is probably thinking about in this mayhem or its immediate aftermath is keeping a diary or journal.   

But many car crashes bring conflicting perceptions coming from various parties, either involved in the crash or witness to one. With insurance adjusters collecting all this information from all these sources, the nuance and reality of an individual’s personal injury claim can be lost in tangles of paperwork. Any confusion can allow reluctant insurance companies to dispute events or haggle over the severity of injuries, leading to delays or denials of personal injury claims.

At best, a well-kept accidental journal can thwart resistant insurance companies. At least, a journal detailing the events of an accident, illustrating where the fault lies, and confirming or clarifying medical reports lend credibility to a case.     

First: Include all Vital Information about the Crash

Whether it is a handwritten or a digital record, an accident journal should explicitly keep track of all injuries sustained in any type of accident. In the case of a car crash, this record should start where the injury occurred—the crash itself. It is important to start recording the facts early, even at the scene of the accident, if possible.

An accident journal should be handled like a teenager’s diary, staying confidential and only shared with the victim’s lawyer. These are the parties responsible for determining what to include and the frequency with which the journal should be updated with new entries

Certain essential questions should be considered and answered in the journal to provide evidence to prove who was at fault. These questions may include:   

  • What was the time, date, and location of the accident?
  • Who caused the crash, or how did it occur?
  • How fast were the cars going?
  • What was the quality of the road?
  • What was the weather like?
  • How was the sun glare?
  • What directions were the cars going? 
  • Who were in the cars?
  • What was the driver’s state of mind in the victim’s car?
  • Were there any distractions?
  • Was everyone wearing a seatbelt?
  • What was lost or damaged because of the crash?
  • How did the victim feel immediately after the crash? 
  • Were there obvious injuries, or did the victim feel pain right away?
  • What did medical professionals say at the scene or during the first visit?  
  • Did the victim’s injuries get worse after the accident?
  • In what ways did the accident affect the victim’s day-to-day life?

If possible, a car accident victim should also collect all the names, numbers, and addresses of the witnesses. Take photos at the scene to document damages and different perspectives of the area. People often include sketches or drawings depicting how the crash happened while it is still fresh in their memories. 

Next: Include the Injuries and Day-to-Day Treatment

An injury journal can be used to fill in the blanks, explaining the details that an injured person may forget. This is especially true if a head injury occurs. Head trauma is common in car crashes. 

When thorough entries are kept, the journal can also help victims explain to doctors and medical professionals how the injuries are affecting them and account for all medications they are taking for the injuries.

A few relevant elements an accident journal should incorporate include:

  • All doctor appointments
  • The time spent at these appointments
  • The names, dosage, and frequencies of medication
  • The daily condition or day-to-day pain
  • Daily distress and emotional status
  • The ability to perform daily tasks
  • The inability to go on vacations
  • Loss of time at work and wages 
  • All medical bills for treatment related to the crash
  • All property damage and bills for repairs

Journal entries should discuss medical treatments, focusing on any emergency or urgent care received immediately after the crash. Or if you seek treatment within the 72-hour window following the crash. It is always a good idea to get checked out by medical personnel after a collision to notate the trauma your body just experienced.  

If injuries are too severe, it may not be able to note every personal experience, but crash victims should try to record as much as possible, as soon as possible.

If a victim is not medically trained, no one expects skilled entries. If a victim understands their injuries, a brief summary will do it. But levels of pain can be difficult to assess and notate. 

There are resources that can steer crash victims through the terms and descriptions. The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) provides a Pain Awareness Toolkit equipped with a Daily Pain Diary. The American Cancer Society also offers a Pain Log. Both help pain sufferers identify what kind of hurt it is and how severe it is. 

The Ultimate Impact of an Accident Journal

Even a person with the best memory can forget things. Memory gets spotty when accidents are factored in. The ability to recall all the specifics concerning a crash and the aftermath can get lost in the mad shuffle of litigating a personal injury case. 

Whether it is referred to as a journal, derived from the French jour, meaning the duration of the day, or diary, from the Latin diarium, meaning “daily allowance” – both are firsthand, day-to-day accounts that detail how an accident happened and the injuries and property damages resulting from that accident.

Accident journals can play a vital role in the evidence used in a personal injury case. These entries can be used to validate fault in a car crash or the injuries sustained. They can be used to calculate damages in a quantifiable way, so when it is presented to insurance carriers, they can help determine the size of settlements.