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It was horrible. Someone ran a red light and T-boned you. You went to the hospital and got x-rayed. The emergency room physician gave you vicodin and an anti-inflammatory medication and told you to follow up with your family doctor if things get worse. The insurance carrier for the other driver is calling you non-stop (see "Evening the Playing Field"). Life is upside down.
Things get worse before they get better. Two days later you are still sore and stiff. You are not sleeping well. You see your doctor; he gives you some sheets of paper with stretches to do at home or he may prescribe physical therapy for you.
Even though you were not responsible for the wreck, you are the only one responsible for getting better from your injuries. Here's what you can do to make your physical recovery and your legal damages case better:
1. FOLLOW YOUR DOCTOR'S ORDERS.
If you are given a Home Exercise Program (HEP), do it. I insist that all of my clients take the stretching diagrams given to them by their doctors and tack them to a large piece of cardboard. Also on the cardboard is another sheet of paper with the names of the stretches/exercises listed down the side of the sheet and the dates of the month listed across the top of the sheet. They keep the cardboard chart front and center where they see it everyday and it reminds them to do their prescribed exercises.
I even insist that they fold up the cardboard and take it to work with them. It is a constant reminder to do their prescribed stretches and mark down which stretches and exercises they do and when.
Not only does this encourage their physical recovery, but it provides for contemporaneous evidence of the client taking responsibility for their recovery. This is the most effective way to document your efforts to getting your life back after a wreck.
2. KEEP A JOURNAL FOR YOUR ATTORNEY:
After being injured in a car accident, you are not yourself. Your life is upside down. Often times when your case is ready to settle, you will have forgotten about the first few weeks after your injury-these are the most important facts about your damages case. If you are thinking about hiring an attorney to help you with the insurance carrier while you a recovery from your injuries, you and your family members should keep a notebook to jot unusual things down about the problems you are having due to your injuries.
3. DOCUMENT YOUR INJURIES:
"IF IT IS NOT DOCUMENTED, IT DOESN'T EXIST!"
It sounds odd to be taking photos of bruising, cuts, and abrasions after a car wreck, but often times these photographs are the difference between someone saying they had a bruise and someone being able to show an insurance carrier or a juror a photo of a deep bruise from a seatbelt or from hitting your head against the window. Cuts and bruises are evidence, and it is always best to preserve evidence, especially when there's an insurance carrier or defense attorney that will argue "If it is not documented, it doesn't exist!"
© Leonard B. Gabbay, Attorney 2005