A bike crash injury diary is perhaps the most important thing to do, from a legal perspective, apart from getting help from an attorney. You should begin immediately and continue until you make a complete and full recovery and are no longer in any way affected by the collision.
Insurance negotiations and lawsuits are based on the facts of your case. In order to prove the facts, you need detailed evidence. You need to preserve these details. And failure to do so can weaken your claim.
What to Include
Begin with a detailed description of the crash. Include every detail you can think of. Describe where you were headed, approximate speeds, any weather or road conditions, what you saw first as the collision began to occur, what you heard, whether you heard tires screeching, what witnesses said to you, what the police officer said, whether the police officer appeared to be conducting a thorough investigation, etc. Include all of the details that you can think of, whether or not they seem important. A detail that doesn’t seem important initially can turn out later to be crucial to your injury claim. Include a diagram, or multiple diagrams, that show where exactly the collision occurred and on what part of the bicycle or vehicle.
Of special importance is your critique of the police report. As soon as you receive your copy of the police report, go through every line of the report. Make a note of any error or misstatement, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
Include photos of your injuries, your bicycle, the clothing you were wearing during the crash, and any other belongings that were visibly altered as a result of the crash. This can be powerful evidence to be used later.
Finally, begin making regular entries describing how the crash has affected your life. Think about from the moment you woke up in the morning. Here are a few examples:
- If you didn’t feel rested when you woke up, was it because your injuries kept you up during the night?
- Were you slower to get out of bed and through your morning routine because you were trying to minimize the pain in parts of your body?
- Was your appetite affected because of your pain or injuries?
- Did you have to miss work, or leave early, or was your productivity at work affected because of your injuries?
- Did you have to miss out on any enjoyable social events or recreation because of your injuries?
- Did your injuries have any effect whatsoever on your spouse?
- Did you experience any headaches, soreness, or pain?
- Did you suffer from any fear or anxiety caused by the crash?
- Can you see any evidence of your injuries on your body (bruises, abrasions, scars, etc.)?
- Did you suffer from any disability, limitation, or pain during a workout or other physical activity?
- Did you suffer from any embarrassment or other emotional distress as a result of any of the above?
Using Your Bike Crash Diary to Help Your Case
Your diary can be very helpful, especially if you use it in conjunction with your medical treatment. Take it with you to your appointments, and use it to inform your doctor of all the symptoms and limitations that you are experiencing as a result of your crash. You may even give a concise version of your diary to your doctor or therapist to include in your medical file. Your diary will carry much more weight with the insurance company if it is included in your medical records.
Once you are represented by a lawyer, you should immediately turn the latest version of your diary over to him or her. Be sure to keep updating your diary and to periodically send the updates to your attorney.
It is important to note that your diary may not remain private. If you go to court, a diary that you made for yourself is “discoverable,” i.e. the other side’s attorney has a right to a copy of the diary and can use it in court. So bear in mind that what you write may be read by a judge or a jury, and use appropriate language and form accordingly.