At Truth Legal we have developed an expertise in representing injured people who have developed a chronic pain condition. As part of our bespoke personal injury service, we work closely with specialist personal injury barristers who also have a deep understanding of pain conditions.
It is essential that if you think that you have developed a chronic pain condition, or that your treating doctor is of the view that you have developed or will develop a pain condition as result of an accident, that your case is dealt with by a solicitor who has expertise in pain claims. Long-standing whiplash injuries often become pain conditions and these conditions are often missed by inexperienced paralegals.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is a general term which includes cases in which the injured person has very real symptoms of pain, but the treating doctors have been unable to precisely locate the cause of that pain.
Unlike, say, orthopaedic injuries; which most people are familiar with, chronic pain, as a term, has not yet entered popular consciousness. Some GPs remain unfamiliar with the concept as are many paralegals who run hundreds of whiplash claims. In addition, pain clinics – which are departments of hospitals – are only a recent invention.
As a result of its “newness” chronic pain conditions are often regarded by injured people as a diagnosis given to people when the doctors do not believe what they are saying – that it is “all in the mind”. This is simply incorrect: a diagnosis of a pain condition is a serious diagnosis which requires expert treatment and expert legal representation.
If you have a chronic pain condition caused by an accident which was not your fault, even if you have already instructed solicitors, you should contact one of our specialist personal injury solicitors to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation at a time convenient for you.
What are the various “chronic pain” conditions?
Chronic pain syndrome
This condition is a somewhat catch-all term. Chronic pain is usually characterised by pain that doesn’t go away. Symptoms usually last for a minimum of 3-6 months.
Sometimes the impact upon the injured person is relatively minor, but sometimes the symptoms are significant and debilitating.
Complex regional pain syndrome (sometimes known as “reflex sympathetic dystrophy”)
Complex regional pain syndrome is a condition in which the main symptoms appear near the location of the original injury. At Truth Legal we have noticed that our clients who have been diagnosed with chronic regional pain syndrome often report shooting pains, changes in the temperature of the skin, burning sensation, amongst other symptoms.
Our clients who have been unfortunate enough to have been diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome often have never-ending pain which is completely disproportionate to the injury caused in an accident. People with this diagnosis are, in some quarters (usually by unhelpful friends and employers), often regarded unsympathetically as if the pain experienced is being overblown on purpose. See http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Complex-regional-pain-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx for more information.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is also known as ME, which stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis. Chronic fatigue syndrome usually presents as long-term tiredness, usually for a period of six months or more. The cause is unknown.
At Truth Legal we have not had a case of an accident causing chronic fatigue syndrome but we suspect that there are accidents which have caused, or accelerated, the onset of this disabling condition. People with this condition often report muscle and joint pain. See http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Chronic-fatigue-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx for more information.
A somatoform disorder is a range of conditions in which the injured person appears to have physical symptoms but no obvious physical cause for the symptoms. The symptoms are due solely to psychological factors and can last a long time. See https://www.nbt.nhs.uk/clinicians/services-referral/neuropsychiatry-clinicians/somatoform-disorders-referral for more information.
Usually the main symptom of this condition is pain in the muscles in many parts of the body. It may include tiredness, numbness, stiffness and cognitive difficulties, among many other possible similar symptoms. Fibromyalgia is often diagnosed together with anxiety and depression.
How much is my accident-caused pain claim worth?
Due to the complex medical evidence required in chronic pain claims, calculating the likely value of the claim is very complicated. If the medical evidence – often involving reports from several varied medical experts – is supportive, the claim could have significant value because the impact upon the injured person is massive, particularly given that they may not make a full recovery.
Chronic pain claims often terrify Defendant insurers because of the potential value of them. Even the medical reports themselves can cost a Defendant insurer a vast sum of money. In our experience, when it becomes clear to a Defendant insurer that an injured Claimant is likely to have a pain condition, the Defendant insurer often instructs their panel solicitors sooner than they normally would. In addition, it is common for Defendant insurers to make offers to buy-off the risk that a claim becomes of a very high value by making tempting offers to settle. And due to the uncertainty surrounding the diagnosis some injured people are often tempted by an insurer’s early offers of settlement even though they are often going against the advice of their solicitor.
In most higher value personal injury claims, it is the injured person’s future loss of earnings that can add significant value to a claim. Chronic pain claims – due to their potential to be permanent and debilitating conditions – often lead to a significant future loss of earnings claim, particularly if the injured person is likely to work in a higher paying job.