The Pain Journal

Apr 11, 2019 | Best Practices, Damages, Lawsuit

Pain is one of medicine’s great puzzles.

It is a physical process — no different than breathing.  But it is also inherently subjective. Only you know how you’re experiencing pain, and to what degree. And that experience is notoriously difficult to convey to others.

But it can be easier if you’ve kept a pain journal.

In our last blog post, we talked about things you can do — as a client — to help your personal injury lawyer or medical malpractice attorney effectively handle your case. We discussed the importance of keeping careful notes of the accident or injury, including any pain you experienced after the fact. We’d like to explain that last part in more detail here, because it can help your lawsuit tremendously.

First, it’s important to understand that as a plaintiff in one of these types of suits, you may be entitled to compensation for the following non-economic damages:

  • Pain, both past and future
  • Suffering, both past and future
  • Loss of a normal life (or disability), both past and future
  • Emotional distress, both past and future
  • Disfigurement
  • Increased risk of future harm
  • Shortened life expectancy

There is no model or formula that can tell us the value of a person’s pain, or what their emotional distress is worth. But a jury will nonetheless be asked to assign a monetary amount to each of these types of damages.

That’s where a pain journal comes in handy.

What is a pain journal?

A pain journal is exactly what it sounds like. It is a notebook or log, either written or electronic, where you keep track of your daily pain and other symptoms. You chart what kind of pain you are feeling, how long it lasts, and otherwise characterize it.

For example, you might describe the pain as shooting and intermittent, and rate it on a scale of 1-10. You might note that it is worse in the morning, or later in the day. You might list what makes it better or worse. You could record what activities you’re limited in performing that particular day — what you used to do, but no longer can do. And you could explain how the pain is impacting your mental and emotional health on that particular day.

Pain journals capture the full scope of what you’ve been through, which helps explain what you will continue to go through. 

Instead of giving jurors a snapshot of your pain, you will be asking them to consider the day-by-day cumulative toll — which should add up to a higher monetary award.

What are the other benefits to keeping a pain journal?

For one, this type of note taking serves as a contemporaneous record of your experience. When you tell the jury how excruciating things were months ago, and how things have changed on a day-to-day basis, you will have the documentation to prove it.  Not only can we admit your notes as evidence, but they will make your testimony more reliable and believable.

A pain journal can also help flesh out your testimony, filling in helpful detail. Most folks are uncomfortable talking about traumatic experiences, and have a tendency to downplay what they’ve gone through. This won’t help your lawsuit. So let your notes do the talking for you.The bottom line: By keeping a pain journal, you can remain proactive and build evidence that even the best lawyers can’t develop on their own.

At Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, we work to maximize your chances of obtaining full and fair compensation for your injuries. Call us today to see if we can help you through the difficult process of seeking justice after an injury due to someone else’s mistake.

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