The Forgotten Victims of Chronic Pain

Often when chronic pain is caused by an accident, the family become full-time carers and ultimately also suffer as a direct impact of the injury encountered by their loved one.

By Paul Turner

Over many years I have acted for individuals who have sadly suffered awful injuries at the hands of negligent third parties. When an injury happens which takes away an individual’s mobility, independence and livelihood, this can be devastating for them.

The system of compensation and rehabilitation is heavily weighted in favour of the injured party over those immediate family members who will inevitably also have suffered as a result of the incident. However, the support is there and can be accessed, if you know how!

I have the pleasure of acting for a gentleman whose family were singularly reliant upon his income. My client and his wife have four children. The client has developed CRPS, a chronic pain condition, which has rendered him disabled, unable to walk and unable to continue in his former work as a builder.

Since the time of the accident my client has struggled to gain access to vital pain management services on the NHS, receiving his first appointment at the pain clinic some 18 months after he was first injured.

As part of the claim I have been able to obtain a large interim payment which has offset the client’s entire lost earnings to date and which will cover him for the next year or so whilst I continue to gather evidence regarding his injuries, treatment needs and future losses.  Money, however, often represents just the tip of the iceberg in these cases.

Living with chronic pain and other long term disabilities can often result in depression and anxiety so that a once cheerful contributing member of a family becomes so withdrawn that they are ostensibly no longer the person they were prior to suffering their injuries.

Whilst awful for the individual to feel this way, this can be especially hard for partners and immediate family members who suffer a kind of grief at the loss of the person they love but also at the enforced change in their role from partner, husband, wife and sometimes child, to carer!

The grieving process and or depression that mounts in the injured party and their loved ones doesn’t happen overnight.

When we are children and we often superficially hurt ourselves with a graze, for example, and this hard wires our brains to expect that within a matter of days or weeks of injury our body will recover. When we reach adulthood and we injure ourselves we expect things might take a little longer to heal.

With chronic pain conditions and other lifelong disabilities, often it takes a long time for the reality to sink in that the pain is never going away.  Being hard wired as we are to expect a recovery, when we don’t recover this leaves us first seeking answers and when the answers don’t come or else the answer is that you will have these symptoms forever, this is often when the darkest days arrive.

It is not uncommon that symptoms of depression following an injury, may take many months to develop after the original insult, because of the long held and ingrained belief that a recovery will happen.

Within any long term relationship, there is often an understanding that we will look after our loved ones if ever the need arises. In traditional marriage vows we say “in sickness and in health”.  When sickness or disability comes in old age, this might be accepted as being part of life, however hard that might be when it arrives.  However, when it comes in the prime of someone’s life that can mean a complete change in direction for the injured person and their family. 

The family referred to above have just hit “the wall” in terms of the realisation of the lasting nature of the injury.  It can take years for people to come to terms with and build a future that includes a chronic pain condition or other disabilities. 

In the initial years following an accident a great deal of strain is placed on families and relationships and it is sad to say that often couples separate because life, caring for a sometimes embittered person, is too much to bear.

My client lives in a small four bedroom house which has no downstairs W/C.  He is unable to access the stairs due to it being unsafe and cannot have a chair lift fitted due to the width of the staircase.  This means my client now attempts to sleep in the lounge on the sofa, has to urinate in a bottle and has to use a commode which is located in the garage.

My client’s wife is now responsible for the care of their four children and my client, who is no longer able to look after the children or help around the house.  Sadly my client has already made one attempt on his life and so his drugs are now controlled by his wife to prevent him taking a further overdose at the depths of depression which can take hold at any time.

Together with the case manager we have been able to put in place a package of insurance funded support. This includes marriage counselling and separate psychological therapy for both my client and his wife, a cleaner for two hours per week, plus some paid care for the client.

In addition we are working with architects, builders and occupational therapists to covert a redundant carport at the side of the property into a separate downstairs bedroom with en-suite bathroom and w/c, likely to cost in the region of £100k. All of this, before securing the bulk of medical evidence to prove the long term condition is causative of the accident.

The important thing is finding a lawyer who knows how to access this support, who will listen to your wants and needs and be realistic about what can be achieved. It is often hard extracting funds from insurers at the early stage in a claim, therefore it is imperative that your lawyer understands the various hoops that are required to jump through in order to get you to a better place so that you can really start to re-build your future. 

At Goughs we care about each of our clients and the impact of Chronic pain on their loved ones, we will get to know you well throughout the life of your case.  We offer no win no fee arrangements and will visit you at home, at work or anywhere within England and Wales. For your free initial consultation get in touch with Paul by completing the form.

We listen, we advise, we are here for you.