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First Steps-Take Notes About the Incident and Your Injuries

Two critical issues in any legal claim after an accident or injury are:

  1. What exactly happened during the incident that gave rise to the claim?
  2. What kind of harm resulted?

These issues will arise at many stages of a personal injury case, and more complex cases can last a year or more, so having a clear record to refer back to can contribute toward the success of your claim. One of the best ways to make sure that you preserve every important detail of your accident or injury is to take notes as soon as possible after the incident, including what happened and the effects of your injuries on your daily life.

Although taking notes may be the last thing on your mind soon after what may be a traumatic experience, remember that it will help strengthen your position in a legal claim for your injuries. (Note: If you are unable to act quickly due to injuries or medical treatment, you might ask a loved one or close friend to help you follow the suggestions described below.)

What to Write Down

As soon as you can, write down everything you can think of that relates to:

  • What exactly happened before, during, and after the incident that led to your injury -- time and place, weather conditions, who was present, what was said, how the incident played out, what you experienced and felt, and anything else that you feel may be important to record. 
  • Extent of your injuries -- what injuries you suffered (physical and mental), medical treatment you received (past and future), and the effect of your injuries on every aspect of your work, social, and personal life. This includes visits to the doctor and physical therapist, time missed from work, any planned vacations that were postponed or cancelled, and the effects that your injuries have had on your close family relationships.  

Take Notes Throughout the Claim Process

As your claim progresses, continue to keep track of new developments by taking notes after any conversations with your insurance company, medical care providers, witnesses to the incident, and anyone else with whom you discuss important aspects of your case. Write down each person's name and contact information, the date and place of the conversation, and as much as you can remember about what was said.

You should continue to chronicle the day-to-day details of your injuries, including how they impact all aspects of your life, and keep track of your progress toward medical recovery. Making and referring to these notes will help you and your attorney throughout the claim process, and can assist in your effort to receive fair and adequate compensation for your injuries.