Records to Keep And Checks To Make Before Making A Personal Injury Claim
Find out what records you should keep and the checks you should make to support your claim for personal injury – whether you are using a solicitor or not and even if you are undecided whether to claim.
When should you keep these records and make these checks?
The answer is “from now until you claim concludes” – if you are thinking of making a personal injury claim, but you are not yet ready to go ahead or you are already making a claim with a solicitor or acting on your own behalf.
If you think you might never make a claim – I recommend you still keep these records. Experience teaches me that injury victims will often have a change of heart when the long lasting nature of personal injury is fully appreciated.
What are the records and checks you should make if you have suffered injury?
There are number of records you should keep and a few checks you should make – that only you as the injury victim can do. These will give you the best chance to succeed in your personal injury claim.
Many of the records will depend on the type of accident, but there are some general considerations which apply to most accidents, which I have set out below:
1. Diary Recording Pain & Symptoms
Try to keep a daily record in a diary of your physical and psychological symptoms. This should include both primary symptoms (the main body part injured) and secondary symptoms (sleepless nights, deferred pain to other body parts, psychological) and as time goes by any functional disability, scarring, etc.
No matter how trivial you might think the pain is – make a record. Sometimes what seems trivial can be an indicator of a more serious primary injury or might persist, even when the main injury seems to have recovered.
This will help order your mind – you will be able to tell your treating doctors of any symptoms they are unaware of.
Should your claim go ahead, your solicitor will arrange for you to see an independent medical expert, which may be a long time into the future after you accident event. Your diary will allow you to refresh your memory before the appointment and be clear as to the symptoms you have experienced (and still are experiencing).
Your appointment with the medical expert will typically be very short. The expert owes a duty to the court and must comment on the balance of probability, so can seem to look with a critical eye as to the cause of your symptoms.
If you get flustered (many people do) – you can refer to your diary. Being as clear as possible will give you the best chance to get the most accurate report to support your claim.
2. Ensure that you attend at the hospital / GP
This goes without saying – but it is essential that you attend at hospital or with your GP to ensure your symptoms are diagnosed and treated.
The doctors will make a note on your medical records of what you described happened to you as well as your diagnosed injuries. This is essential evidence to show you suffered injury in an accident.
Also remember to return to your doctor if the symptoms persist or any new symptoms develop.
3. Diary Of Expenses and Losses With Receipts
Keep a note in your diary of any direct costs and losses that you are incurring together with receipts – examples include: lost income, medical expenses, travel expenses to the hospital / GP (if you drive or someone drives you – keep a note of distances, number of occasions), care and assistance in the home (if friends family members or partners help you in the home as a result of your injury – keep a note of who does what and the duration of time), etc.
4. Check the time period to use legal protection cover
Should you have any household contents insurance – you might wish to check if you have the benefit of legal protection cover, as you will often have a tight contractual time period to make use of the policy to fund your legal costs in making a claim.
This cover can also be found on some bank accounts and other insurance policies.
If you believe that you wish to make a claim at some point in the future – be sure not to go beyond the contractual period, so you can keep your options open.
Don’t worry – so long as you are within the statutory limitation period, it is likely that other funding arrangements will be available to you, such as a no win no fee.
5. Be careful of the statutory limitation period to claim
The statutory limitation period generally is three years from the date of injury, or knowledge of personal injury, to start a claim at court before you are statute barred and it is too late to claim.
There are exceptions to this time period, such as for children or those with a mental incapacity. See my article limitation periods for personal injury claims to see my detailed description setting out the rule with exceptions.
Remember – date of knowledge can be later than the events that caused the injury – more usually in industrial disease and medical negligence matters.
Criminal injuries only have two years from the date of the crime of violence to commence a claim with the CICA.
Foreign accidents will often be subject to the law of the land (the country in which the accident occurred) and the limitation periods in different countries can vary.
Never leave your claim to just before the limitation period – as a solicitor will have a large amount of work that will need to be done on your claim before it is ready to issue at court.
It is therefore important to instruct a solicitor as soon as possible – and try never to leave it to less than a year from the end of the limitation period. Lawyers will be less reluctant to take a claim on the closer to limitation you are.
6. Details of witnesses
In most personal injury claims – independent witnesses can prove to be essential to prove liability or legal fault. You should keep a record of the contact details of any witnesses and perhaps even ask them to write down what they recall and sign. Most witnesses to accidents are very happy to be of assistance.
Remember – people can change their mobile number and address over time, so as many details as possible can be helpful: name, address, mobile, landline, etc.
7. Keep a record yourself of the accident events
It might seem very clear to you immediately following an accident what has happened, but as time goes by your memory can play tricks and important details can be forgotten or remembered incorrectly.
It is therefore helpful to keep a note of what you recall happened, which can refresh your memory when you eventually decide to proceed.
Your solicitor will eventually need to compile a statement on your behalf. The more accurate this statement – the stronger your claim is likely to be.
8. Ensure an accident book entry has been made
Some accidents might have occurred at work, in a shop, in a swimming pool, or other place controlled by business. Such bodies are responsible for keeping an accident book detailing the date and accident events.
When an accident or injury occurs – you should ensure that an accident book entry is made and is accurate.
You should really see the entry and sign as to its accuracy. Many accident book entries are not made or can be misleading as to what exactly happened. An accident book in many types of claim can prove to be invaluable.
What is the importance of keeping records and making checks to your personal injury claim?
In short – it could make the difference between winning a claim or losing a claim. It can also be the difference between receiving the correct full amount of compensation and a far lower amount.
Remember – the burden of proof is on you (the Claimant). If you cannot prove (through your solicitor) what happened, who is at fault, the extent of your injuries and the amount of loss you have incurred – you simply will not succeed.
Summary And Free Online Specialist Personal Injury Solicitor Assessment
You have seen in this post the importance of keeping certain records before and during a personal injury claim and some essential checks you should make if you are still undecided to claim.
I recommend that you have you claim assessed free by our specialist online solicitors – so you will not only know the specific records you should keep, but you can make an informed decision as to whether you wish to claim now or wait until a later time.