Many personal injury and car accident cases involve relatively “minor” injuries. Insurance companies like to treat these cases as fraud and they defend them by trying to make the plaintiff out to be a liar. However, “minor” injuries may be “minor” in the sense that the person claiming an injury can still walk, talk, drive a car, perhaps work, and do most of the things that they could before with the exception that they are now limited by pain. In other words, they can still do those things but now they can’t do them as much as they used to do them.
These are the toughest cases to present to a jury and are some of the highest risk cases for a plaintiff to bring. The reasons for this are many but these cases are still legitimate cases for which real money is on the line.
Why Is Chronic Pain Such A Common Injury?
It is well known that soft tissue “heals” itself after stretching by generating scar tissue. This happens every time a person sprains any part of their body, including their spine. If you have ever heard a person in their 50’s say that they are now feeling an old ankle sprain that they had when they were 20, then that person is feeling that scar tissue (arthritis) from that earlier injury. This is why soft tissue injuries are considered “permanent” despite the fact that there are no broken bones or parts surgically removed/repaired.
Simply put, arthritis begins to form on soft tissue in a whiplash injury from a car accident or when a sprain/strain injury occurs from a personal injury accident. That arthritis, thereafter, progressively worsens and can result in chronic pain. It is more of a question of when chronic pain will set in from an arthritic injury rather than if. The pain from chronic arthritis may be periodic or intermittent but it does not go away. Again, good evidence of an injury resulting in chronic pain is the fact that it worsens progressively over time.
Convincing A Jury That Your Chronic Pain Has Value
With the understanding that a sprain/strain injury will cause progressively worsening arthritis, you have to convince a jury that there is a value to your injury. Most everyone on the jury will have experienced a sprain at some point in their lives before and most likely every one of those people will have made a “full” recovery from it. For many of those same jurors, their sprain injury was not someone else’s fault and they didn’t collect any money for it.
As a personal injury plaintiff, you have to prove that someone else’s negligence caused your injury and that you are entitled to collect money for it.
What Types Of Chronic Pain Cases Will Attorneys Accept On A Contingency Fee?
The way in which you are injured resulting in chronic pain makes a difference. Car accident cases are much easier to prove legal liability than personal injury cases involving some degree of comparative fault on the person who was injured. For instance, when one car strikes the rear end of another car, legal liability is generally a given.
However, when someone falls in a store or a parking lot, hundreds or perhaps thousand of people traversed the same areas without injury before your injury happened. In order to win a personal injury case like that, you have to show that your injury was the result of something unexpected even though it did not effect a great number of others who came before you.
Regardless, virtually all car accident and personal injury cases are handled by attorneys in Florida on a contingency fee basis, which means no fees or costs unless money is recovered for you.
Getting Medical Treatment For Chronic Pain
After your car accident or injury incident, a good chronic pain case starts with an ER or urgent care visit. Juries expect that a person claiming chronic pain (i.e. pain for the rest of their life) was at least initially severe enough for the person to go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic. While a case without an ER or urgent care is possible, it is better to just go if you have the ability to do so.
The second thing a good chronic pain case has is prompt follow-up care with conservative treatment options. This means that a person who is injured didn’t wait months to see a physical therapist or chiropractor (or to have sought pain medication). While physical therapy and chiropractic therapy are “holistic” medicine, it often pays to try it before engaging in more expensive or invasive therapies. If your accident has caused you to be in chronic pain for the rest of your life, then you should have given it a try before seeing specialists, trying injections, or possibly looking at surgery.
At this point, we need to revisit what chronic pain is. Chronic pain is pain that has persisted for so long that it is considered permanent. Many chronic pain patients are not recommended for surgeries or other treatments that might stand a chance of “fixing” whatever it causing their pain. Instead, a chronic pain patient only has one option-that is taking medication for the rest of their life.
This is where there is value to a jury in a chronic pain case.
Getting Testimony From Doctors
Once you have reached the end of the line with your medical treatment, your injuries (if the symptoms have not resolved as they sometimes do) are often described as “permanent” by your doctors. They do this by using AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. This is the most standardized method of rating injuries available (more than just the doctor thinks the injury is permanent).
By that point in time, anyone who needs surgery will have been recommended for it and just about everyone else (if they are still having problems related to the accident) become “chronic pain patients” while those whose symptoms resolved are no longer patients at all. This should explain why there are so many chronic pain patients.
Impact On Daily Living Activities
Chronic pain often causes a person to lose interest in doing things that they used to do. This is often a difficult concept to convey to a jury and to get a jury to sympathize with you on. Nonetheless, the impact that chronic pain has on your daily activities is a major driver of damages.
Prior History Of Injuries Or Accidents
Your credibility as a plaintiff in a personal injury case is also impacted by any prior history of injuries or accidents that you may have. In the eyes of most jurors (who have likely never made an injury claim), a plaintiff with several accidents, particularly in a short amount of time, will be viewed in a less favorable light than someone who has never had an accident or an injury on the job.
If you have a history of injuries, you will need to be able to explain the injuries that you received from those incidents and explain how or why your injuries from this accident are different or more severe. Doing that is much easier said than done, however, it is a must to win your case.
Chronic Pain Cases Are Not Bad Cases
While insurance companies like to delay or deny chronic pain claims for accidents or injuries, they are not bad personal injury cases. Instead, if you are honest about your injuries and realistic about your situation, then you can win your case. To get help with your case, you should contact a Lakeland personal injury attorney to discuss your case for free. If your case is accepted, then your attorney will advance the costs necessary for your case and will only get paid if a settlement or judgment is received.