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Using Activity Lists to Prove Pain and Suffering

You’ve been hurt due to someone else’s negligence or responsibility, and you would like to be compensated for the pain and suffering you have been called upon to endure. Since it’s your burden of proof in establishing your claim for damages for your pain and suffering, you need to consider how you are going to demonstrate to your adverse insurance claim representative or jury if the claim proceeds to trial that your pain and suffering has reduced your quality of life or your capacity to enjoy your life at work, at home and at play.

I have previously written about how you should maintain a pain journal that sets forth the nature and intensity of your pain and how you are trying to deal with it.

But even in preparing a pain journal, the story regarding your pain and suffering is incomplete unless you are able to show how your pain and suffering has reduced your quality of life or capacity to enjoy life. To that end, I suggest that you prepare an "Activity List" of all of the tasks that you performed at work, at home and at play to start the process of being able to tell your story as to how your pain and suffering has reduced the quality of your life.

I. QUALITY OF LIFE AT WORK

If you had a job before you were injured, you should list all of your duties and responsibilities you had at work prior to your injury. You should also obtain from your physician a written list of work restrictions you that your physician recommends you avoid or curtail at work due to your injuries on a frequent, occasional and rare basis during a work day or shift while standing, sitting, walking, squatting, kneeling and stooping. Then compare that list of restrictions with your list of duties and responsibilities. You should then list what you can and cannot do that is consistent with your physician’s work restrictions. Also, you should note who amongst your co-workers and supervisors who may be willing to testify on your behalf regarding their observations concerning how your injuries have affected your ability to do your assigned tasks at work. Showing a jury at trial or the adverse insurance company at mediation what you can and cannot do can go a long way in establishing how your injury has affected your quality of life at work.

II. QUALITY OF LIFE AT HOME

Similar to making your activity list of the tasks you perform at work, you should also prepare an activity list of the tasks your performed at home prior to your incurring your injuries including, but not limited to, housework, lifting heavy objects to clean, laundry, vacuuming, carpet cleaning, caring for children, auto maintenance, and your intimate relations with your spouse and/or significant other and the like. Compare in your narrative what you can and can’t do now as opposed to what you did prior to incurring your injuries. Also, you can solicit help from family members, friends and neighbors who know you as to their observations regarding what they see as to what you can and cannot do now as opposed to what you could do prior to the injuries you incurred. The activity list can help you demonstrate how your quality of life at home has been significantly reduced. You should list each and every task you regularly performed at work prior to your injury. Then you should put to paper your work restrictions provided to you by your physician. Once you have prepared your activity list at work, compare that list with your work restrictions and then write down how your pain and suffering has affected your quality of life at work including, but not limited to, what tasks at work are you unable to perform or unable to enjoy now as a result of your pain and suffering as opposed to what you were able to do prior to incurring your injury. Listing what you are unable to do at home or what you are able to do under duress can help establish how your quality of life and/or capacity to enjoy life at home as been affected.

III. QUALITY OF LIFE AT PLAY

There are a number of activities that you may have enjoyed prior to your injury that you are unable to do now or participate in under duress and discomfort because of your pain. You should list each activity. They may include the following:

- Camping

- Fishing

- Hunting

- Hiking

- Mountain biking

- Cycling

- Baseball

- Softball

- Billiards

- Darts

- Heavy housework

- Gardening

- Yard work

- Mowing the lawn

- High Impact Aerobics

- Low Impact Aerobics

- Weight Training - lifting weights

- Jogging

- Swimming

- Bowling

- Volleyball

- Playing in the park

- Playing with children

- Attending movies

- Playing football

- Playing basketball

- Taking long drives

- Missed vacation

- Crocheting

- Knitting

- Sewing

- Scrap booking

- Recreational reading

- Recreational walking

- Hockey

- Field hockey

- Racquetball

- Handball

- Squash

- Boating

- Snow skiing

- Water skiing

- Snowboarding

- Ice Skating

- Skating

- Paint balling

- Soccer

- Foosball

- Frisbee

- Video-gaming

- Playing the piano/organ

- Playing musical instrument

- Canning

- Canoeing

- Kayaking

- Rafting

- Metal work

- Wood working

- Bird watching

- Playing with pets

- Golfing

- Frisbee golf

- Master Chorale/Choir;

- Ballet

- Opera

- Dancing

- Playing cards

- Playing board games

- Shuffle board

- Cutting/Splitting firewood

- Photography

- Videography

- Any other avocational/recreational activity - please specify: __________________________________

After you have made your list of activities that you are unable to perform or otherwise perform under duress due to your injuries, you should make a narrative as to each activity you listed setting for the following:

- How many times you participated in the activity in the last 24 months prior to your injury?

- Where did you participate in the activity?

- With whom did you participate in the activity?

- Since your injury have you participated in the activity?

- If so, how many times did you participate in the activity since the injury?

- Where did you participate in the activity?

- With whom did you participate in the activity?

As to each activity noted, you should make a list of friends, family, co-workers, supervisors, neighbors and anyone else you know that would be able to render testimony on your behalf concerning their observations that demonstrate how your pain and suffering has reduced your quality of life and/or capacity to enjoy life during your recreational time on your own or with your family, significant other, friends and associates.

The preparation of a list of your activities that you regularly performed at work, at home and at play prior and subsequent to your injury can go a long way in helping you demonstrate how your pain and suffering have reduced your quality of life and capacity to enjoy life.


Alan Morton
Advocate for Justice/Trial Lawyer