National Pain Week and How You Deserve to Be Heard When Making a Claim for Compensation

Aug 6, 2020

As a personal injury lawyer, I help Plaintiffs achieve awards of compensation for pain and suffering caused by injury. Naturally, I spend a huge amount of my time talking with Plaintiffs about their subjective experience of pain and the impact that it has on their physical function, daily activities, enjoyment of life, and relationships and mood.

We just had National Pain Week and whilst this is a week late, its in part because I started to reflect a little/ National Pain Week serves as a reminder of the everyday suffering of those living with pain, and reminds us of the need to strive for better understanding and knowledge of pain.

I have to admit that as a much younger Lawyer, my understanding of the complexities of pain was limited. I recall one particular matter however, which sharply focused my mind to the intricacies of pain.

I represented a client who had sustained an upper limb injury as a result of an accident. Imaging indicated that his injury had healed and his treating doctors had no explanation for the ongoing cause of his extremely debilitating pain. The insurer argued that he was embellishing his symptoms for financial gain.

I had met with the client and had no reason to disbelieve his reports of pain. I spoke to my extremely experienced supervisor, who quite frankly had seen everything over the years. He asked me what my client’s story was, and so I relayed the details of the accident to him, the injury, and the ongoing symptoms. He waved this away, and said that I had misunderstood him, he wanted to know what my client’s story was, and why he was still reporting pain. I answered that I did not know, to which he replied “but it is your job to know!”

An appointment was made for the client to come in and speak with myself and my supervisor. I didn’t know what my supervisor was going to get out of the client that I hadn’t. How naïve I was! Within minutes of the appointment starting, my very experienced supervisor unraveled what still is to this day, one of the most complicated stories of pain I have ever heard.

Many years ago my client had been on holiday with his wife and children. They were taking a stroll one evening with the children in prams. A drunk driver had ploughed into them, instantly killing his children and seriously injuring his wife. The drunk driver had later skipped bail and had not been located since. My client had spent years paying private investigators to try to find the driver. Then this accident had happened, and he had welcomed the injury and the pain. There were two reasons for this, firstly he thought that he deserved to be injured, he had after all, walked away from the accident which had killed his children with no physical injuries of his own. Secondly, he liked the pain, for whilst he was in pain, it gave him something else to think about, and stopped him thinking about his children and the driver who had not been brought to justice.    

I was a little red faced after the appointment, my supervisor told me not to beat myself up about it, my client’s treating doctors, after all, had also not been able to get to the bottom of the story. I did however, need to get better at understanding pain, and how it is often tuned by the brain, and encouraging my clients to open up to me. Thankfully, I have.

From thereon, my client’s treatment became multifactorial and targeted to what he needed.

At Frichot Lawyers, we have a strong team of senior, highly experienced Personal Injury Lawyers and an emerging team of energetic junior lawyers to support this team. If you have been injured or suffered psychological trauma at work, in a motor vehicle accident, in a public place, as a result of a criminal offence, through institutional or sexual abuse or through medical negligence, Frichot Lawyers can help you.

In any of these situations, you may be entitled to compensation. Our specialist personal injury team will assess your case and advise on the best course of action. 

Free Introductory Consultations are only available for Personal Injury Claims. If this is not likely to be possible for a specific Personal Injury matter, we will communicate this with you as early as possible. 

Many personal injury claims are eligible for ‘no win, no fee’ representation. Not all claims can be conducted on a no-win, no-fee basis. You will be informed of the risk of paying the other party’s costs if your claim is unsuccessful at a free, no obligation introductory consultation.

Not all of my clients have such tragic stories, but each has their own experience of pain which deserves to be fully heard. Hopefully with the evolving evidence of the complexity of pain, there will be better understanding amongst those tasked with treating it, and also in compensable claims, those tasked with quantifying and compensating it!

 

This article was written by Dawn Williams,

Senior Associate and Specialist in Personal Injury Law

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