ON v. Bullock – (Chronic Pain) – 13.09.16
13th September 2016
30 year old Teacher with lupus recovered £200,000 for the consequences of fibromyalgia that developed after a road accident. Marcus Grant (instructed by Christopher Kardahji of Irwin Mitchell) appeared for the Claimant.
In October 2011 the Claimant sustained a soft tissue ‘whiplash’ injury to her cervical and lumbar spine in a high energy road accident. She needed to be cut from her car by the emergency services. Before the accident, on her case, she suffered from limited cutaneous lupus which was not diagnosed until 10 months after the accident. She continued to work full time as a teacher and suffered pain-induced sleep disturbance. Over the course of c. 6 months after the accident her pain became more diffuse and widespread and was accompanied by profound fatigue and cognitive impairment and headaches. Fibromyalgia was diagnosed at about the same time as the subcutaneous lupus. She was treated with medication for systemic lupus and the diagnosis ’SLE” appeared throughout her medical records even though her biomarkers for the condition were never confirmed.
Her fibromyalgia progressed and became moderately disabling forcing her to seek a non-teaching role that placed less strain on her limited stamina and pain tolerance reserves. She suffered no loss of earnings in the 4.75 years between the accident and settlement. On her case, her fibromyalgia was triggered by pain and anxiety-induced sleep disturbance from the accident. On the Defendant’s case the fibromyalgia symptoms were probably part of an undifferentiated connective disease connected to the SLE diagnosis. The Defendant did not accept the more limited diagnosis of subcutaneous lupus was correct and did not accept that there was no causal nexus between that more limited form of lupus and the onset of fibromyalgia pains.
The £200,000 recovered by way of damages was the product of a negotiation between the Parties, weighing up the credibility, vulnerability and causation risks on the facts of the case, 3.5 weeks before trial.