The Emotional Consequences Of Personal Injury
Until you have had a serious personal injury, or have worked closely with someone who has, it can be difficult to fully grasp the emotional consequences that a personal injury can bring with it. It can be a particularly difficult situation to explain when the plaintiff/injury victim is still working and doing their best to make ends meet. Although it can certainly be a more challenging scenario to prove the losses in some cases, I encourage my clients to get back to as much work as they can handle, provided that their doctor agrees. I make it clear that they don’t want to be perceived to be giving any less than their full effort in trying to restore their lives and remind all of my clients that this lawsuit will eventually end, and it would be wrong to just listlessly float through the action without trying, and to then reach the end of the action and not know what they can actually tolerate. That being said, there are many clients who simply cannot return to work or study at all.
Most injury victims, are in and out of appointments, in ongoing treatment, seeing specialists, taking medications and doing just about anything that they can to get better. In that time they struggle with ongoing pain, ongoing problems in doing their job, their work around the house and even holding or playing with their kids in many cases.
A lawsuit can take years to resolve. That wears on a person. Every day you try to go to sleep with pain, you don’t get a restful sleep, you get up in the morning with pain, you try to do what you need to and that just causes more pain. You do your job as best you can, but you’re always feeling guilty and wondering whether others are upset because you’re not doing everything that you used to, everything takes you longer and you get worn down.
You have to go for ongoing treatment just to keep up and that takes time as well. And there is this suspicion and pressure because the insurance companies says that you don’t need the treatment because it won’t cure you, but none of that makes any sense to you because you feel this pain everyday and you know how bad it gets unless you get that ongoing treatment.
You put your energy and your full force into working, because you need the money, and you are not the type of person who just stops. Then you feel guilty because you’re not holding your child, or going down the slide or on the monkey bars with your child, because it’s just too much and you don’t have anything left.
Your spouse has to start doing the chores and things around the house – for years – and, as enlightened as spouses are supposed to be in this day and age, that can still cause issues. The guilt and the difficulties cause friction and problems in relationships and in the marriage and that wears you down more. And it cycles, again and again. Each time that cycle goes round you wear down more and more.
That is what years of an injured persons life are like. The car accident system that we have now does not adequately address their needs, but it is the only system that we have. A lawsuit takes a considerable amount of time and there are many protections for the insurance companies built into the legislation.
Many of my clients break down in tears at the discovery, describing how difficult their job now is for them and how much they now needed help and had to rely on others. And that is just talking about it – imagine how they feel living it every day. They also know that their employer may not always be around, or may decide that they don’t want to be so accommodating and would prefer an able-bodied person – then they are stuck trying to find a good job in a tough market, when they have a disability – they think about who wants to hire someone with a disability when you have 200 other able bodied people to choose from.
This can be exceptionally difficult for “hyper-achievers” who did incredible things before the accident and build their identity on achievement. When that ability to achieve is taken away or compromised, a serious identity crisis can occur.
Many of these victims know that it is only going to get more difficult as they get older and their body has less of the energy to push past the pain and the problems. They now have to deal with the fact that the doctors are admitting to them that there probably isn’t going to be any more improvement – this is it – this is your life now. They were healthy before, and now they have to live with constant ongoing pain and limitations and there is not much that they can do about it.
This is a person’s one and only chance to seek compensation for the rest of their life. That can be a very stressful thing. It is especially stressful when the insurance company denies the existence of the injury itself, or that it is related to the car accident or personal injury at issue. I always tell my clients to be prepared for a battle and to understand that I know that the system is a bad one – but there is no alternative and it is the only means of securing compensation. Some insurance companies will often hire doctors that are known for writing reports that deny the plaintiff’s injuries, their relation to the accident and their severity. They also rely upon secret loop-holes in the law that automatically reduce an injured person’s injury award, forbid certain damages and forbid the lawyers from mentioning the existence of insurance. The delays inherent in moving the file towards trial can, in and of itself, represent a serious challenge for injury victims (In Toronto, it can sometimes take 4 years to get to trial, in Oshawa, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, York Region, the waiting period can be less).
A famous lawyer once said that a trial is not a tea-party. It certainly is not and there are nasty elements and road-blocks that can seem insurmountable at times. Describing the real effects of a car accident or injury and properly framing them with evidence and expert testimony are integral. Feel free to call us for a free consultation to see if we can help you through this difficult time.
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