The chronic pain effect

I observe her despair as she recounts all the changes that have occurred in her life since her accident. She is no longer the strong, independent, patient woman she once was. She is no longer able to care for her two children the way she used to. She can no longer do her job, and she can’t pay her bills, let alone all of her treatment costs. 

She has no social life, and her relationship with her husband is strained. She explains that she feels guilty that her husband has had to take over all the housework and parenting duties. She feels guilty that they cannot be intimate. She feels guilty that he has had to pick up extra shifts just so that they can try to pay their bills. She feels guilty as she watches their only savings disappear. 

Her husband seems to be understanding of some of her challenges, but he does not understand why her recovery is taking so long. He cannot understand why she does not want to go out for dinner with friends. He doesn’t understand why she hates being in the car and still refuses to drive past the accident scene. He is losing patience with their relationship. They fight all the time. 

Due to her injuries, she cannot workout or cook the way she used to, so they order in food a lot more often. She has gained 30 pounds, and her self-esteem has hit the floor. She is miserable and depressed.

She is sleep-deprived and in pain. She is tired of all the medications and their side effects. She is tired of the never-ending medical appointments. Nothing seems to help.  

Worst, though, is that none of the people close to her seem to really understand the pain she is in or why. No one can see her injuries (neck strain, back strain, concussion, headaches, depression), and from an outsider’s perspective, the car accident just wasn’t that bad. 

She does not want to live this way.  She just wants her life back.

Unfortunately, in my experience, the above scenario is incredibly common. The impact of chronic pain is profound, and it extends far beyond the injured individual. It affects everyone around them;   spouses, children, parents, co-workers, close friends . . . they are all affected. 

Marriages and relationships will often be destroyed. Jobs will be lost. People who are in pain all the time can be miserable to be around, and their ability to contribute to relationships as they once did is limited. Intimacy or other activities once enjoyed that fostered the relationship have gone by the wayside.  

While the pain and suffering endured by an injured person is compensable, what comes as a surprise to many of my clients is that family and friends do not have a claim for the pain and suffering they have endured. Basically, with the exception of something called an ‘in-trust claim’ (this is essentially compensation for services performed by the family member/friend for the injured person at the going rate for hired help) or cases of nervous shock (cases where the family member/friend suffers a recognizable psychiatric illness as a result of the accident), there is no compensation for the emotional toll your injuries have on others. 

However, despite the general lack of compensation available for family and friends affected, these individuals can play an important role in the amount of compensation you will recover in your personal injury claim. This is because the people in your life who are directly affected are also the ones who have seen the real impact that your accident has had on you. As a result, their evidence can be invaluable, in addition to the right medical and legal professionals, in helping you obtain fair compensation.  

Important Note: The information contained in this column should not be treated by readers as legal advice and should not be relied on without detailed legal counsel being sought.

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About the Author

Keri Grenier is an experienced personal injury lawyer based at Murphy Battista LLP's Kelowna office. She also holds a B.A. in psychology. Her practice focuses on helping people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents or due to the negligence of others.

In her column, Keri provides practical information about personal injury claims in a format that is simple and easy to understand.

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://www.murphybattista.com

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/KelownaLawyer

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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