Many people who develop a chronic pain condition do so following the trauma of an accident. What is often surprising is that the condition can develop following what seems initially to be a relatively minor injury.
The definition of chronic pain condition does vary. However, it essentially refers to a long term pain condition such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain and Neuropathic Pain.
Chronic pain conditions can become debilitating. Sufferers often become dependent upon family and friends to assist them with even basic domestic activities and many lose their jobs as a result of long term incapacity.
It is almost inevitable that a personal injury solicitor will have clients who develop a chronic pain condition. This may follow a road traffic accident, an accident at work or a trip or fall.
The difficulty for the solicitor when faced with a client exhibiting symptoms of chronic pain, is that they cannot always rely upon the medical profession to correctly diagnose the condition. The simple fact is that chronic pain is little understood by many doctors. Accordingly, doctors instructed as medical experts in personal injury claims (often general practitioners or orthopaedic surgeons), regularly either fail to diagnose the condition, or are reluctant to suggest a referral to a doctor better qualified to investigate the symptoms. Rather, they affix labels to the symptoms such as psychosomatic, functional overlay or illness behaviour. It is perhaps not surprising that clients, faced with such a diagnosis, often ask “is he saying it’s all in my mind?”
So how should a solicitor deal with this situation? A solicitor should carefully question every client about their symptoms and review the medical records before deciding on the most appropriate medical expert. Though not medically qualified, a good personal injury solicitor should be able to spot the tell-tale symptoms of chronic pain and instruct a medical expert who has hands-on clinical experience of treating such conditions.
A solicitor should never use a medical reporting agency to obtain medical records or a medical report. Unfortunately, this seems to be very much the norm these days. The standard of medical experts used by these middle-men agencies is often poor. The simple fact is that good medical experts attract work by reputation alone and do not have to rely upon agencies to tout them around the legal profession.
Where there is a suggestion that a claimant may have a chronic pain condition, the other party will inevitably request their own medical evidence. This is another reason why it is essential that the claimant’s solicitor only instructs a respected medical expert who is able speak authoritatively about the condition and who, if the matter proceeds to trial, is able to withstand the rigours of cross-examination by the other party.
The message then is clear – the solicitor must properly investigate their client’s symptoms before choosing the most appropriate medical expert for the symptoms exhibited. This should include a review of the medical records. Not to do so can lead to the instruction of an inappropriate medical expert and a failure to properly diagnose the condition. This in turn may lead to the client’s claim being under settled.
If you would like to discuss your claim, even if you are already with a solicitor, then please either complete the contact form or call BLB Solicitors on 01225 462871. There will be no charge for the discussion and you are under absolutely no obligation.