In early 2017, John was a front seat passenger when his partner lost control of their vehicle and collided with a stationary parked car. John thought himself relatively fortunate, escaping any major injury, but suffered what he describes as a “classic whiplash” injury to his neck.
He went into work the following day but within an hour was unable to continue as the pain had by then spread to his lower back, radiating into his legs. John saw his GP and was signed off work and advised to keep mobilising and taking painkillers. The advice was that his symptoms should improve. He was also referred for physiotherapy but this had to stop as it made his pain significantly worse.
Ultimately, John was referred by his GP to a consultant in pain medicine.
By now several months had passed since the accident. John’s pain was becoming worse rather than improving and the symptoms had spread to his hands and feet. Despite this, the consultant reassured him that he was simply experiencing the prolonged effects of a soft tissue injury and that he should see an improvement in time.
“John’s pain was becoming worse rather than improving and the symptoms had spread to his hands and feet.”
When things didn’t improve there followed a raft of referrals to clinicians in all manner of specialism – spinal surgery, neurology, rheumatology and yet another pain consultant. John then began to experience debilitating headaches and developed toothache, a dry mouth and a rash across his chest and back. This prompted further investigations including an MRI scan, a CT scan, blood tests and nerve conduction studies, but all came back as ‘normal’. His GP suspected he might have developed fibromyalgia but the rheumatologist to whom he was referred disagreed.
It was now two years since the accident and John had lost his job. “I just wanted to scream” he said. “Nobody seemed to have a clue what was wrong with me and most of them left me with the impression that they thought I was making it up.” This feeling was only heightened when he was told he should be referred to a psychiatrist.
“I just wanted to scream”
Around this time, John instructed BLB Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation. Following a thorough review of John’s medical records he agreed to be referred to a leading and senior consultant in pain medicine who diagnosed a Functional Neurological Disorder (FND). John said, “I had never heard of Functional Neurological Disorder, but even before I started looking into it, I felt so relieved that at least I now had a diagnosis for what was going on.”
The report explained that psychological distress can manifest as genuine physical pain symptoms following a traumatic event and in John’s case, in the absence of any other possible cause, the car accident had been that trigger. The consultant recommended that a report be obtained from a psychiatrist to ensure nothing else was going on. Subsequently, the psychiatrist concurred with the consultant in pain medicine that John was suffering a FND.
“The car accident had been that trigger.”
In terms of treatment, it was felt that John was likely to gain the most benefit from attending a residential, multi-disciplinary, pain management programme. On such a programme, John would have simultaneous treatment input from pain consultants, psychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. This really would give him the very best prospect of achieving an improvement in his condition.
As Functional Neurological Disorder lawyers, BLB Solicitors were able to secure a substantial interim payment for John. This was sufficient to both relieve the huge financial pressure his family were under and also to fund the cost of attending a four week residential pain management programme at the Bath Centre for Pain Services.
“BLB Solicitors were able to secure a substantial interim payment for John.”
Despite initially admitting a degree of scepticism, John fully embraced the opportunity he had been given and found the techniques he learned on the residential course helped to improve both his level of function and his broader outlook. Indeed, he is now actively looking for part-time sedentary or semi-sedentary work.
“It’s not just the money. If I can get a job, even just part-time, it’ll give me back some self-respect” he said. “It’s a funny thing, but having to rely on other people for everything is so demoralising. Before the course in Bath I spent most days stuck in the house staring at the telly. I now feel I have some sort of future again.”
“If I can get a job, even just part-time, it’ll give me back some self-respect”
Amongst other things, we are currently updating John’s medical evidence. Once a settled, long-term prognosis is available, we will be in a position to begin the process of valuing John’s compensation claim prior to settlement. In addition to compensation for the injuries themselves, John’s claim includes past and future lost earnings, loss of pension, future treatment costs, the cost of adaptations to his home, the cost of care, domestic, DIY and gardening assistance and increased transport costs.