Chronic pain is a symptom that frequently has life-changing impacts for accident victims. After a person has been injured in a car accident, motorcycle accident, a slip/trip and fall or another type of accident, they sometimes suffer serious and disabling symptoms such as chronic pain, long after the date of their initial injury. Chronic pain can result from many forms of injury, including neck, back and brain injuries, and can have wide-ranging effects on an accident victim’s quality of life and function, by causing reduced mobility and dexterity, weakness, sleep disturbances, fatigue and psychological problems.
People who have never experienced chronic pain may think that symptoms reported by sufferers are exaggerated because, when you’re pain-free, it’s difficult to imagine what it feels like to suffer from pain that never ceases. However, victims of chronic pain know how debilitating and exhausting it can be to live with chronic pain.
We know that chronic pain has direct effects on our cognitive and physical abilities, and our moods, but it also changes our biological processes and the central nervous system. Many chronic pain specialists now view chronic pain as a neurological disease which can impact emotional and sensory mechanisms that normally inhibit pain, and chronic pain has its own symptoms of depression and anxiety. Constant and serious pain also significantly reduces a person’s resting pulse rate and when untreated, will aggravate pre-existing diabetic and cardio conditions and can result in cardiovascular problems including stroke and heart attack. Also, persons suffering from chronic pain experience greater stress and are more susceptible to infection, illness and disease.
There is no question that chronic pain substantially interferes with an accident victim’s life. And, many sufferers become house-bound and socially isolated.
Here are some of the common effects of chronic pain.
- Sleep disturbances and fatigue – victims rarely sleep through the night and commonly suffer from sleep deprivation
- Memory and concentration – chronic pain interferes with the ability to retain and store information and reduces the ability to focus and make decisions
- Physical weakness and reduced mobility
- Changes in mood – chronic pain makes sufferers feel hopeless, reduces coping skills and increases susceptibility to emotional changes and psychological problems
- Psychological problems include depression, anxiety and fear
- Vulnerable to drug abuse to reduce the level of pain
- Undermines relationships – a victim’s physical limitations, frustration, increased impatience and depression effects their personal relationships with family, friends and co-workers, as well as their sexual relationships
- Work disability - physical, psychological and emotional problems often prevent sufferers from performing their essential work functions
- Reduced ability in performing household chores and recreational activities
Studies of people suffering from chronic pain have found that, overwhelming, chronic pain has substantial consequences for victims as well as for their families and often leads to a deterioration in the quality of life for patients and loved ones. And, many caregivers and family members report that they too suffer from psychological or emotional problems because they find it difficult to cope with the challenges of interacting with a loved one who suffers from chronic pain. Chronic pain is fairly prevalent in western society and there is a real need within the medical community to better understand the cause and effects of chronic pain and develop more effective and accessible treatments.
Mousseau v. Morrison (2018) is a personal injury lawsuit that was brought against the ‘at fault’ driver after a woman was injured in a rear-end collision. After the accident, the plaintiff felt pain in her back, neck and shoulders, as well as headaches. Diagnostic imaging at the hospital did not indicate damage; however, she continued to feel pain in the months after the accident, which prevented her from working for six weeks and then only on a modified work schedule for another month. Less than three months after the accident, the plaintiff awoke in agony and found that her pain had significantly worsened, despite not having experienced any additional trauma. She sought various medical treatments for the pain and was diagnosed with post-traumatic neck, shoulder and low back pain.
The plaintiff’s doctor testified that the plaintiff’s pain is moderate to severe and has a neuropathic pain component. The chronic pain has a significant impact on the plaintiff’s life and her working career in a retail environment. She can no longer lift objects weighing more than 20 pounds; is not able to do overhead work; and cannot work more than 20 hours in a week. The judge in this case found that the curtailing of the plaintiff’s work career was a serious and permanent impact of an important function – the plaintiff very much enjoyed working and the social interactions that went with it, and the judge believed that she was only able to continue working in some capacity due to ‘her admirable work ethic’, perseverance and sheer determination. The plaintiff was awarded over $215,000 in damages, which includes $100,000 in non-pecuniary damages for pain and suffering.
As indicated in Mousseau, persons who suffer from chronic pain caused by the actions of a negligent party may be eligible for injury compensation, whether the injury results from a car accident, slip and fall accident, sports injury or another traumatic event. As well, chronic pain sufferers are eligible for disability benefits under their disability coverage if their pain prevents them from performing the essential tasks of their job. A Canadian Survey on Disability reported that long-term pain is, in fact, the most prevalent type of disability for Canadians.
At Dietrich Law, we have helped many accident victims who are suffering with chronic pain win a settlement for their losses, including pain and suffering damages. If you were injured by a negligent party or have had your disability claim denied, and you are experiencing serious and long-term effects due to pain, talk to a knowledgeable injury lawyer at Dietrich Law today and let us help you get the compensation you are owed.