When your attorney asks you to keep a journal, make sure to document how you’re doing and any facts you believe are relevant in the situation. Your journal and notes are protected by the attorney client privilege.
This means whatever you write in your journal is private between you and your lawyer. The opposing side will not be able to obtain the information after a lawsuit is started, unless you and your lawyer decide the information you documented should be disclosed to help prove some aspect of your specific case.
Because you do have the attorney client privilege, you can be as free as you want to express how you’re doing both physically and mentally. (You can even vent about the process since we will never disclose the information without your consent.)
Very few people like keeping a journal because it’s burdensome to have to write things down all the time. However, as humans we all forget as time passes and a journal can help refresh your memory.
In our firm, we want to know our clients and the struggles they go through, so we can be effective advocates for our clients with the jury. When you document what’s going on and how you’re feeling, we can use that information to really connect with you and with the jury.
Types of claims where keeping a journal is helpful:
1. In a motor vehicle crash, a journal can help document how you’re doing in your recovery from day to day, how much pain you have, how difficult it is to do things, and even document how your family is handling things. This is extremely helpful in traumatic brain injury cases and cases where there has been a substantial change in a person’s life. It’s even helpful in simple “soft tissue” neck/back sprain/strain cases as the argument of the defense and insurance company is always that you weren’t really hurt…nothing was broken.
2. In a medical negligence claim, timelines and the timing of events is almost always important for proving both liability and your damages. When you have a medical event happen that isn’t going well, start writing. While we would all like to think that our doctors would never lose, change or omit things in our medical record information, sometimes this happens. We are human after all, and your doctor, even well-meaning, may fail to document exactly what you talked about, or what you reported when you were there and the discussions that took place. Your journal or notes can become vital information to prove your case later if you do end up with a permanent harm due to medical negligence.
3. In an employment wrongful discharge or discrimination claim, documenting what’s going on over time at work can be crucial information for your lawyer to have, when an employer fails to follow the law with regard to handling events happening in the workplace. Employers, or the HR department can fail to document things, may neglect to investigate timely and thoroughly, or may even be unable to find performance reviews and meeting notes after litigation begins. Again, we are all human, so if something happens at work that you believe is a significant event, document it yourself. A timeline will be created later that may be useful in proving your claim.
4. In police excessive force cases, document the event(s) as soon as you can after it took place. Law enforcement is required to prepare reports regarding their perception of events. Therefore, since you felt you were not treated appropriately and sustained a serious injury, it’s important to document what you recall happening. You will forget things as time goes by, as will the officers and they will be relying on the reports they prepared at the time. You want to also be able to rely on your notes and documentation you made at the time to have the best memory of the event as you possibly can. You can also document the physical and emotional challenges you experience as you try to recover.