Word on the street has it that the insurance industry are all but declaring war on accident victims suffering from chronic pain disorders such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
Many accident victims suffering chronic pain disorders are still left under compensated, mainly as a result of their solicitors lack of understanding of their condition and the use of inappropriate medical experts. However, as more solicitors are gaining an understanding of chronic pain disorders, insurance companies are starting to see an increase in such claims coming through. Given the restrictions that chronic pain places on a person’s life and in particular, their ability to work, ???these claims tend to be of high value.
One particular aspect of cases involving chronic pain that insurance companies do not like is that often it can be difficult to measure some of the symptoms objectively. In other words, the medical expert has to rely solely upon the claimant telling them about one or more of the symptoms of the condition, rather than actually being able to observe or otherwise detect the symptom.
That said, each condition has its classic symptoms, and although those symptoms often vary from person to person, the majority of those symptoms can be measured objectively. However, it is rather worrying when a medical expert states that a particular symptom or symptoms cannot be measured objectively when they clearly can!
Last year I took over a claim from another firm of solicitors. They had been reluctant to obtain evidence from a consultant in pain medicine, despite the client having been diagnosed with neuropathic pain by her treating consultant. However, the client had persisted and a report had been obtained. When I reviewed his report, whilst he had concurred with the treating consultant and diagnosed neuropathic pain, in doing so he had also stated that “there are no objective signs”. Having met with the client, that came as somewhat of a surprise! I therefore telephoned the consultant and after a discussion about my client’s symptoms, he agreed that he had been wrong and that there were clearly objective signs. He agreed to amended his report.
This clearly illustrates how vital it is to instruct good, senior and respected medical experts. Being chronic pain specialists, we maintain our own list of medical experts, of whom we have past experience. Unfortunately, as has become clear from regularly taking over claims from other firms of solicitors, most solicitors do not maintain their own list of medical experts and rely instead on third party medical agencies to obtain reports, the quality of which are often poor.
What we have noticed over the last year or so is that in cases involving chronic pain, when it comes to obtaining their own medical evidence, insurance companies are all now using the same few consultants, who inevitably reach a vastly different conclusion to the medical expert instructed by the claimant. This only goes to underline the importance of the claimant obtaining their evidence from the right consultant from the outset.
As terms such as CRPS, Fibromyalgia and Neuropathic Pain are becoming to the insurance industry like red rags to a bull, it is vital therefore that accident victims suffering with chronic pain disorders have confidence that their solicitor has the required understanding and experience to handle their claim.