Personal injury law allows an injured accident victim to recover various forms of compensation, including financial damages for the pain and discomfort. This type of monetary relief is referred to as pain and suffering damages. At some point when your injury has fully healed and your attorney is preparing a claim demand or a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries as well as pain and suffering damages, you will have to provide evidence of the extent of pain discomfort you have experienced. One of the best pieces of evidence can be your medical chart.
Documenting Your Pain and Suffering in a Medical Chart
A medical chart is relied upon heavily by lawyers, insurance adjusters, judges and juries in accessing a person’s injuries. Medical charts are viewed as reliable because they are prepared by doctors who are supposed to be unbiased and give an honest opinion of the nature and extent of a patient’s injury. A doctor will typically perform a physical examination and order X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, or other tests to aid in the diagnosis of your injury. But physical examinations and radiology results don’t always disclose the full extent of the pain and discomfort you are experiencing. Often, the only way your physician will know how much pain you are suffering is if you tell your doctor, “it hurts.”
Creating a Record in Your Chart
When you tell your doctor that you have pain in a particular area of your body, the doctor will typically make notes of this in the medical chart prepared in the ordinary course of business. This will create a record that becomes part of your patient chart. The patient chart will later be produced as part of your entire medical records. Any statements in your chart where the doctor notes pain you are feeling in different parts of your body will be very strong evidence in support of your request for pain and suffering damages. For example, in a head injury case, if the neurosurgeon's notes mention that you said you were experiencing headaches every day, this will be noted in your chart. If there were no such notes in your file, the neurosurgeon may only document what is visible in MRI and CT Scan results. Then a brain injury lawyer will be missing a critical piece of evidence that could have corroborated your statements. The neurosurgeon's notes in a medical charge would add credibility to your claim in the eyes of an insurance adjuster, or a judge or jury.
Continue to Report How You Feel
It is equally important that you continue to report to your doctor how you are feeling, and, more specifically, the pain that you are feeling on a day to day basis. It is critical that each time you go in for a doctor’s visit, the doctor knows exactly how you are feeling and where you are hurting. That way, your physician can continue to keep the most accurate medical chart with notes that continue to document the pain you are experiencing. Otherwise, when it comes time to submit a claim demand, the only thing your attorney will have is the initial report prepared by the physician documenting the pain you felt on the first visit. By regularly notifying your physician of the pain you feel, the physician will be more likely to additional reports describing your pain, resulting in a more accurate patient chart that will accurately reflect the length of time that you have been having discomfort or pain, hence you and your lawyer will have the benefit of this key evidence in support of your personal injury claim.