Pain and Suffering is considered as a part of your damages in a personal injury claim. Documentation is essential because in South Carolina there is no precise formula that is used to determine how much is fair compensation for your daily pain and suffering resulting from the accident. You can negotiate this figure with the insurance adjuster or you have the right to have a jury decide how much money you should receive for the pain and suffering related to your injury. Either way, documentation is necessary to prove the extent of your injuries and the associated pain.
These days everyone has a cell phone with a camera. Immediately have someone start taking pictures of the accident, the EMS personnel, the doctors, you in a wheelchair leaving the hospital, etc. You get the idea but be absolutely the date and time are set correctly and continue to take pictures during the length of your recovery. The old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is never truer than in proving your pain and injury claim.
Pictures help your personal injury attorney decide how to present your case and how much to ask for in settlement negotiations. Bruises may disappear over time but photographs document what bruises looked like in the time right after the accident. It’s also very important to document your injuries as time goes on with photographs so as not to limit yourself to a few photos taken in the week right after the accident. You may in the hospital, in a cast, or in a wheelchair for a period of time after your accident.
The insurance adjuster will evaluate how well you can present your claim to a jury before deciding how much to offer as a settlement. Hopefully you will look and be perfectly healthy by the time your case goes to mediation or to trial. It may be hard to tell that you have even been in an accident. Only pictures will accurately depict what really went on during your painful recovery period.
Buy a day-timer and for each and every day until your recovery is complete record what hurts, how much it hurts on a scale of 1 to 10, and what you have tried to do that day that your could not do because of your injuries and the associated pain. Your pain journal can be introduced into evidence at trial and the jury will be able to read what you went through on a daily basis. This also shows the insurance adjuster that you have a case worth taking before a jury. The adjuster has to justify any settlement offer that he makes and the more information that is in his file, the easier it is for him to get authority to offer you a reasonable settlement.
Obtain your medical records BEFORE you meet with an attorney. Some attorneys have a Legal Nurse Consultant on staff that can assist the attorney in evaluating your claim. One thing you do not want to do is to sign the at fault insurance company’s request for a HIPPA release to obtain your records.
medical records may contain very personal, private details about your life,
details you would not want revealed publicly. This information may have nothing
to do with your injury claim. Your personal injury attorney should personally
review all of your medical records and only provide the records directly
related to your claim.
Failing to properly document your claim will result in lower settlement offers from the insurance claims adjuster and eventually a lower verdict at trial.
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