22nd January 2020
A 43-year-old social worker recovered £1.165m in a negotiated settlement in respect of injuries and consequential losses sustained in two road accidents 10 months apart. Marcus Grant represented the Claimant who was left with enduring symptoms.
She sustained soft tissue injury to her spine (a ‘whiplash associated disorder’) following the first accident, a rear end shunt, which also caused her a loss of restorative sleep. Over the ensuing 6-8 weeks the nature of the pain became more widespread and diffuse and was accompanied by a flu-like malaise and headaches. She was unable to continue her work and her mood became depressed. By the 6th month anniversary her GP began to suspect fibromyalgia and referred her to a rheumatologist.
Before she saw the rheumatologist the second accident happened. It was objectively more serious and more frightening than the first. It caused a significant flare in her centrally sensitized chronic pain symptoms and PTSD. Her already fitful sleep patterns became further fragmented and she descended into a deep depression and became sufficiently dysfunctional that she was forced to abandon any attempt at work and required assistance from Social Services to run her domestic activities, to include caring for her children.
She underwent an array of bespoke treatments for fibromyalgia and depression and PTSD but was left past the 6th anniversary with enduring disabling symptoms. She brought a claim for compensation for the consequences of post-traumatic fibromyalgia.
The defendants (represented by the same legal team) instructed a team of experts who disavowed the diagnoses of fibromyalgia and/or post traumatic fibromyalgia and suggested that her presentation was a product of probable prior psychological vulnerability, a somatic symptom disorder and exaggeration, either conscious or subconscious. The defendants asserted that domestic or personal care with aids and appliances were contra-indicated and would merely reinforce a sense of disability that was entirely psychological. They anticipated a swift and full recovery post litigation with the assistance of an individualized programme of psychiatric and psychological intervention and that she would likely make a full recovery within 2 years.
The case settled through negotiation against that evidential matrix.