A chronic injury can be life-changing, not only for you but also for your friends and family. Ongoing pain can lead to other mental and physical health problems, including depression, anxiety and a weakened immune system.
Chronic pain can appear suddenly or develop gradually after the initial trauma, lasting longer than three months. There are different kinds of long-lasting pain, such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, that may affect your ability to work and engage in daily activities.
Common causes of chronic injuries include accidents at work, road traffic accidents, medical negligence and military accidents. If another person or organisation caused your accident by acting negligently, you might be eligible to make a chronic pain claim.
If you have a valid case, your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee agreement, so there will be no financial risk for you. They will also consider how the ongoing pain has affected your life to ensure you receive the maximum chronic pain compensation you deserve.
Can I make a chronic pain claim?
If you or a loved one developed a chronic injury due to someone else’s negligence, you might be able to claim compensation. The easiest way to find out if you have a valid chronic pain claim is through a free consultation with a legal adviser.
Before accepting a case, chronic pain solicitors ask a few questions about how the accident occurred and how it affected your life to determine if:
- Your accident happened in the last three years
- It was due to the negligent behaviour of another person
- That person owed you a duty of care
- Your chronic pain caused you significant suffering and financial losses
If you are eligible for chronic pain compensation, your solicitor will help you gather evidence to support your case. This might include:
- Medical records related to your injury or illness, such as diagnostic tests, treatments and long-term prognosis;
- Photographs that capture the cause of your accident before anything is moved or repaired;
- Pictures of visible injuries and damage to your property;
- Statements from witnesses that saw how your accident happened or could explain how your working conditions caused your chronic pain;
- Accident report forms if you were injured in a privately owned business or at work;
- Your notes about how you suffered a chronic injury and how the ongoing pain affected your life;
- Occupational health reports if your chronic pain is due to repetitive strain at work;
- Proof of all the financial losses and expenses you incurred because of your injury.
After preparing your claim, your solicitor will contact the person or institution you hold liable for your damages and inform them of your allegations of negligence. If they admit responsibility, you can start to negotiate a settlement that is acceptable to both parties.
If the other side denies liability, your solicitor will have to issue court proceedings. However, negotiations usually continue until the trial date, and more than 95% of all chronic pain claims settle out of court.
What is chronic pain?
According to the NHS, the term chronic pain describes ongoing pain that goes on for more than three months, despite medication and treatment. Sometimes, chronic pain has a clear cause, such as a long-lasting illness like arthritis or cancer.
Some people also experience chronic pain that is not linked to an injury or physical illness. Some of the most common explanations for this are that the pain stems from psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and depression and low levels of endorphins in the body.
Pain is generally defined as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience and can be associated or not with actual tissue damage. Pain is always a personal experience that is influenced by various biological, psychological and social factors.
Unlike acute pain, which comes from a direct injury or illness and serves the purpose of warning you that something is wrong, chronic pain does not provide such an adaptive value. The body is just sending constant or repeated pain signals without a real cause or purpose.
Unfortunately, chronic pain is widespread, and a quarter of UK adults report living with this condition. People who experience chronic pain describe their symptoms in many different ways, such as:
- Body aches
- Burning and stinging sensations
- Shooting pains
- Stiffness and tight muscles
- Acute soreness
Chronic pain often leads to many other health problems, both cognitive and physical, including:
- Depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions
- Fatigue and feeling overly tired most of the time
- Insomnia and other sleeping disturbances
- Weakened immune system
- Cognitive impairment and trouble concentrating
- Mood swings
- Muscle weakness
Sometimes, chronic pain can be managed with medication such as antidepressants, muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory drugs or opioids, but this is not always possible. Some therapies can also help you manage your pain, including physical therapy, counselling and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).
If you have developed a chronic injury following an accident, you might be eligible to make a chronic pain claim.
What are the different types of chronic pain?
Since chronic pain is not fully understood, it can be challenging to have your symptoms properly diagnosed and managed. Chronic pain conditions can take many forms, and psychological factors are believed to play a significant or sole role in most disorders.
In some cases, there can be some physical changes to the body causing or contributing to the development of chronic pain. In many other cases, there are no detectable physical changes at all. There are lots of different types of chronic pain conditions, of which the most common are:
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. There are many different types of arthritis, of which rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the most common. Besides pain, other signs and symptoms may include:
- Swelling and tenderness
- Decreased range of motion
- Redness and warm skin over the affected joint
- Weakness and muscle wasting
There is no cure for arthritis, but treatments such as medicine, surgery or physiotherapy may help improve symptoms. If you developed arthritis due to the negligence of another person, you might be eligible to make a chronic pain claim.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Complex regional pain syndrome is one of the most easily identifiable chronic pain conditions. It is a very rare disorder that describes excess and prolonged pain and inflammation after an injury to an arm or leg. For the majority of people, CRPS improves over time and eventually goes away. It can also lead to prolonged disability for which you might be able to claim chronic pain compensation.
The root of CRPS is thought to be the improper function of the nerves that carry pain signals to the brain. Typical symptoms include:
- Unprovoked or spontaneous pain which feels like a burning or pins and needles
- Changes in skin temperature, colour, or skin texture
- Swelling of the affected limb
- Abnormal sweating or nail and hair growth
- Joint stiffness and impaired muscle strength and movement
Myofascial pain syndrome is a condition that affects the muscles and the connective tissue that is wrapped around every muscle. Myofascial pain is a common syndrome, usually caused by a strain or another injury to a muscle, ligament or tendon. The signs and symptoms include:
- A tender knot in a muscle
- Deep, aching muscle pain
- Tight or stiff muscles
- Weakness and reduced range of motion
- Muscle spasms
You may also experience other health problems, such as poor sleep, headaches, fatigue, stress, anxiety or depression. Common causes of myofascial pain include repetitive strain, working in a cold environment, poor posture and emotional stress. If you developed the condition due to another person’s negligence, chronic pain solicitors could help you claim compensation.
Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. Symptoms often begin after an event such as surgery, physical trauma or severe psychological distress and are more common in women than men.
In other cases, symptoms accumulate over time with no single triggering event. These include widespread pain, fatigue, muscle spasms, bladder problems and cognitive difficulties. Fibromyalgia often coexists with other conditions, such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Anxiety and depression
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex, debilitating and long-term disorder. The causes and mechanisms are not fully understood, but potential triggers include viral infections, hormonal imbalances and physical or emotional trauma.
People with chronic fatigue syndrome can suffer various symptoms, the severity of which can fluctuate on a daily basis. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Concentration and memory issues
- Sore throat and headaches
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Unexplained joint or muscle pain
- Enlarged lymph nodes
If you developed CFS due to an accident or traumatic event caused by another person, you might be eligible to make a chronic pain claim.
Chronic pain syndrome
Chronic pain syndrome is a general term used to refer to long-term pain that has become linked to further psychological, cognitive and emotional complications. The syndrome usually follows an initial painful condition, such as spinal cord injuries, stroke, surgical trauma and other accidents.
Some people may experience constant pain, while others experience flares of intense pain which then subside to lesser pain. Other symptoms may include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Joint pain
- Suicidal thoughts
- Sleep problems and fatigue
- General discomfort
The emotional toll of chronic pain can affect many aspects of a person’s life, including their relationships, work or education. If another persona caused the initial trauma by acting negligently, you might be able to make a chronic pain claim.
A somatoform disorder is a mental health condition that causes an individual to experience physical symptoms in response to psychological distress. These include:
- Pain or shortness of breath
- Neurologic problems
- Sexual symptoms
- Gastrointestinal complaints
- Muscle and joint pain
- Nausea and dizziness
- Difficulties concentrating, thinking or remembering
- Anxiety disorders
The pain and other problems are real, even if a physical explanation cannot be found, and the distress from symptoms can significantly affect relationships and daily functioning. Before diagnosing a somatoform disorder, doctors must perform many tests to rule out other conditions.
If your life is affected by any of these or another condition, you might be able to make a chronic pain claim. A free consultation with a legal adviser can let you know if you have grounds to take legal action and give you answers to any questions you may have.
What are the main causes of chronic pain?
While some cases of chronic pain are not linked to a physical injury, many others are due to injuries suffered in an accident. The most common causes leading to chronic pain claims include:
- Road traffic accidents can lead to severe injuries such as spinal cord injuries, head trauma, burns and crush injuries that may have long-lasting consequences. If you suffered a chronic injury due to the negligence of another road user, you should be eligible for compensation.
- Whiplash is a common injury caused by damage to the neck’s muscles, ligaments or nerves. It can lead to long-lasting chronic pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders, dizziness and fatigue that may last for years or even a lifetime.
- Medical negligence can take many forms, such as medication errors, misdiagnosis, birth injuries and surgical mistakes. While medical negligence is not always easy to prove, chronic pain solicitors work with medical experts to help prove that the care you received was below the acceptable level.
- Military accidents can be very traumatic, not only physically but also mentally. Chronic pain is very common among military personnel and a leading cause of disability. Musculoskeletal problems are the most common reason for medical discharge in the British armed forces, followed by multiple trauma and brain injuries. Chronic pain is often accompanied by PTSD.
- Accidents at work can happen in many different ways, from machinery accidents and a fall from a height to manual handling and repetitive strain injuries. Employers must comply with the health and safety rules dictated by the legislation and take all reasonable measures to keep employees safe from harm. Otherwise, they might be liable for chronic pain compensation.
- Slips, trips and falls can happen anywhere on the streets or in a public place like a restaurant, bar or supermarket. Slips and trips are the most common cause of preventable accidents in public and are often due to hazards like uneven pavements or wet floors. A slip or trip accident can cause severe injuries with long-term consequences.
- Nerve injuries can affect any part of the body and often have long-lasting or permanent consequences. Chronic pain and muscle weakness are just some of the symptoms of a nerve injury for which you could claim compensation.
- Sports injuries are often nobody’s fault, but sometimes they could be prevented by taking reasonable precautions. Faulty equipment, inadequate ground conditions, bad advice and lack of proper training are some circumstances that could lead to a successful chronic pain claim.
Chronic pain conditions are difficult to diagnose in the immediate aftermath of an accident, as the symptoms are similar to acute pain. Chronic pain can only be assessed weeks or months after the initial trauma.
Whether you were diagnosed with chronic pain after an accident or it developed over time due to muscle strain and overuse, you might be entitled to compensation. To find out if you have a valid chronic pain claim, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser.
How much compensation can I claim for chronic pain?
If you have a valid chronic pain claim, your solicitor will ensure you are fully compensated for how this affected your life. How much compensation you might receive depends on several factors, including:
- The circumstances of your accident or negligent event
- The type and extent of your chronic injury
- How it has affected your daily life and ability to work
- All the related financial losses and expenses you incurred
A specialist chronic pain solicitor will know exactly how much your claim is worth by thoroughly assessing your particular circumstances. So it is vital that you seek legal advice if you want to pursue compensation. There are two types of damages you can recover in a personal injury claim:
Special damages are awarded for out-of-pocket expenses and financial losses, such as:
- Medical expenses such as diagnostic tests, prescriptions and interventions
- Physiotherapy and counselling
- Cost of medical aids
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle
- Lost wages, including future losses if you cannot return to work
- Help and assistance with daily tasks, even if provided by friends or family
- Travel costs to and from medical appointments
General damages are awarded for the chronic injury and how it affected your personal life, taking into account the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Psychological trauma
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of amenity
- Loss of a unique career
To calculate fair compensation for your injury, personal injury lawyers refer to the guidelines published by the Judicial College. According to them, you could receive:
- £16,800 to £30,690 for a moderate chronic pain disorder
- £22,340 to £41,860 for mild Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- £33,590 to £50,210 for severe and long-term chronic pain
- £41,860 to £66,970 for severe Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- £2,390 to £6,890 for minor Vibration White Finger (VWF) with occasional symptoms
- £13,360 to £25,220 for severe VWF with year-round symptoms
- £25,220 to £30,630 for very severe VWF with persistent symptoms that significantly impact your life
- £1,760 to £2,810 for minor Work-related Upper Limb Disorder (WRULD) with recovery within a few months
- £6,890 to £8,570 for moderate WRULD with complete recovery within three years
- £17,460 to £18,440 for severe WRULD that may need surgery and cause continuing problems
How much will it cost to hire chronic pain solicitors?
Chronic pain claims can be funded with a no win no fee service. If your solicitor believes you have a fair chance of making a successful claim, they will offer their support and advice without asking for any upfront fees. Furthermore, if your case fails, you do not have to pay them anything.
This conditional fee agreement makes no win no fee the preferred way of claiming. It removes all the financial risk from hiring chronic pain solicitors and allows everyone to pursue compensation, regardless of their financial situation.
Having an experienced solicitor on your side makes the claims process much easier and less stressful. They will help collate evidence and take care of all the required paperwork while you can focus on your health and well-being. Furthermore, they know how the legal system works and will ensure you get the appropriate chronic pain compensation for your pain and suffering.
As part of your no win no fee agreement, your solicitor will also take out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy on your behalf. ATE is a legal expenses insurance that covers all the costs incurred during claiming if your case is unsuccessful, such as:
- The defendant’s solicitor fees
- Court and counsel fees
- Police and medical reports
- The cost of printing and copying
- Expert witness fees
If you lose a no win no fee chronic pain claim, you do not have to pay anything to anyone. If you win, you keep the compensation award minus a few deductions:
- The cost of the ATE insurance policy
- The success fee
The success fee refers to a percentage of the compensation award that chronic pain solicitors get for the risk they took by offering you a conditional fee agreement. It cannot exceed 25% of general damages and past financial losses, which will be discussed and agreed upon from the beginning.
How long do I have to make a chronic pain compensation claim?
As a general rule, the Limitation Act 1980 sets the time limit to bring a personal injury claim at three years after the date of an accident. In other cases, such as industrial disease or chronic pain claims, symptoms may not appear for months or years after the actual event or negligence. The time limit to start a claim in these circumstances is three years after the date of knowledge.
This is the date the person knew or should have known that they suffered a significant injury due to the defendant’s actions. If you do not claim within the time limit, your case becomes statute-barred. The court has the discretion to extend the three-year time limit, but only when it is fair and reasonable to do so.
There are several exceptions to the three-year limitation date to claim for a chronic injury:
- If the person injured is a child, a suitable adult could claim chronic pain compensation on their behalf at any point. After turning 18, the person will have another three years to take legal action themselves.
- There is no time limit to claim on behalf of an individual who does not have the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings due to:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- A stroke or traumatic brain injury
- A neurodegenerative disease
- A mental health condition such as depression
- A learning or intellectual disability
- If the person regains their ability to handle their case, they will have another three years to claim from that point, providing a claim has not already been made on their behalf.
- If you have developed a chronic injury due to a military accident, you have seven years to claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).
- Chronic pain claims related to an assault or another violent crime could be brought through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) within two years after the event.
- If the accident that caused your chronic pain happened abroad, the time limit to claim will depend on each country’s laws and can be as short as six months.
Regardless of your circumstances, you should seek legal advice as early as possible after becoming aware of your chronic injury. This will give your solicitor sufficient time to gather evidence for your case and ensure you have a strong claim. As this could take a significant amount of time, most chronic pain solicitors will not accept a case that is too close to the claim limitation date.