Fortunately, it is uncommon for accident victims to develop Fibromyalgia, but it does happen and this is now recognised by the judiciary who specifically include the condition in their guidelines on damages awards.
It is vital that a solicitor pursuing a claim for a Fibromyalgia sufferer has a good understanding of both the condition itself and the evidential issues which are very particular to claims involving Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions such as CRPS and Neuropathic Pain.
A solicitor needs to understand the classic symptoms of the condition, as it is not unknown for a client to be suffering from the condition without having (yet) been formally diagnosed by those treating them. Clearly, whilst it is important that a solicitor does not attempt to assume the role of the doctor, the solicitor should know when to ask the right questions of the right medical expert.
Last year I was instructed by a lady who had been involved in a road traffic accident in early 2008, which had initially resulted in her suffering a soft tissue injury to her neck (often called a ‘whiplash’ injury). She had instructed solicitors who initially obtained a report from a GP. This report suggested that she would make a full recovery in 3 to 6 months. As time went by, she did not improve, and in fact she started to suffer from pain in other areas of her body. She was constantly tired and was having a regular “upset tummy“.
Her solicitors then referred her to an orthopaedic surgeon whose conclusion in his report was that he would have expected the initial neck symptoms to “settle down within 6 months or so. As for her other complaints, I can find no organic cause and it is very unlikely they have anything to do with her road traffic accident“.
During this time, she had seen her own GP, who had simply diagnosed “possible IBS“, but had not referred her for a specialist opinion.
Given the nature of her symptoms, I referred her to a Consultant Rheumatologist. In his report he diagnosed her as suffering from Fibromyalgia “which on the balance of probabilities has been brought on by her road accident“.
Without recognising the symptoms and then obtaining medical evidence from the right medical expert, a solicitor runs the serious risk that a client’s claim may be substantially undervalued.