When you sustain injuries in a car crash, or on a worksite, or because you’ve been injured in some way, the first type of pain you feel is acute. This usually lasts a few weeks or months, but eventually goes away. Acute pain – like a burn or broken bone – is easy for people to understand.
Chronic pain is different. It is ongoing, but not always present. It can last years or a lifetime. It can be visible, like a crushed limb or the scarring of a severe burn, or invisible, like a traumatic brain injury or internal organ damage. Because there is no relief, your chronic pain is a catastrophic injury in and of itself.
No matter what kind of pain you suffer as the result of another person’s negligence, you can make a claim for damages in a personal injury lawsuit. When the pain is chronic, however, your case can become more complicated.
Diagnosing chronic pain
When you cut your hand, you can see the injury causing the pain. When you suffer chronic pain, you may need significantly more testing to determine its root cause. Per the Cleveland Clinic, those tests can include:
- Laboratory tests to analyze blood, urine, and/or fluid from the spinal cord and brain.
- Musculoskeletal or neurological exams to assess reflexes, sensation, balance, and coordination.
- Imaging tests
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)to obtain scans of the brain, spinal cord, and other structures.
- X-rays to obtain images of the bones, joints, and other structures.
- Electrodiagnostic procedures
- Electromyography to test muscle activity.
- Nerve conduction studies to record how well nerves are working.
Even if your doctors are able to accurately assess the cause of your chronic pain, they may not be able to quantify it. Pain is subjective, and no pain scale can offer a definitive “amount” of pain that any one person feels. It can only provide an estimate, and that can make things difficult for injury claimants.
Evidence is key to prove your case for compensation
When making a claim for compensation due to chronic pain, you, as the plaintiff will need to showcase all of the information you can (through your attorney) in order to prove your case. That can include:
- Expert testimony. It is vital to obtain testimony from a medical professional with particular expertise in the specific injury causing your chronic pain. Because of the subjectivity of pain, it is critical that you have a medical expert who can attest to your treatment history as well as your tests, to show what efforts you have undertaken to address the pain.
- Medical records. One of the most important pieces of proof you can provide to bolster your case is your medical records. These records should indicate the beginning date or time period of your pain and should match up with the injury that caused your injury.
- Personal journal. If possible, maintain a daily journal of your pain and any other experiences related to your injury. This personally recorded information will help build your credibility and the credibility of your case before the jury.
- You. Pain is not visible, but the effects of it can be – especially with a jury. A perfectly healthy person who suffers an injury which leaves him or her scarred or disfigured, unable to walk without a cane or walker, stooped over, or exhibiting other signs of difficulty with mobility can be a powerful image. Combined with the results of your tests, medical records, and the expert testimony, seeing how that pain has affected you can provide the jury with an overall picture of what you are experiencing.
Catastrophic injuries take time to heal, and some of these injuries result in long-term or life-long disabilities which must be managed by the victim and his or her loved ones. If you are suffering from chronic pain due to a catastrophic injury caused by the negligence of another party, the Maryland catastrophic injury attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., are here to help. To set up a no-cost consultation about your case, call us today at 410.730.7737 or fill out our contact form.