Every client has a story, and every story has multiple elements. A client’s experience, from injury to recovery, can take months to years and be impactful not only to the client but to their family’s health and wealth. Rebecca Britton, of counsel with Britton Law explained, “Understanding the medicine and finding evidence of pain and suffering is the key to getting compensation for your client for what they’ve endured. The burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. As an attorney, if you don’t understand the complete picture, how are you going to convey it to a jury?”
PAIN AND SUFFERING REPORT
An attorney will want to tell the story well; to guide an adjuster and/or jury to see how someone’s trauma has changed their lives and livelihood. One facet of this story should be painted with a Pain and Suffering Report.
Pain and Suffering Reports bring the jury into the lives and experiences the client has suffered. It makes it more personal; it helps people to connect and provides relatability. By providing, sometimes graphic, images and detailed descriptions of injuries and procedural care, the report brings to the forefront the harm committed.
“Caution must be advised,” said Britton. “It is important to present pain and suffering evidence in a balanced, respectful manner – both to respect your client and their situation, and to maintain your credibility with the jury. Presenting evidence in a manner that embarrasses or humiliates your client will not be received well by jurors and it will show in their verdict. A comprehensive report of pain and mental suffering gleaned from medical records and presented clinically at trial is a strong and credible way to garner compassion and empathy from the jury.”
Pain seems very forthright and clear; however, how do you demonstrate pain so that a jury can understand the breadth and depth of pain a client has experienced? There are a variety of techniques and media options to support your case. Actual photographs of an injury, as long as it is done with sensitivity, can be very impactful.
Graphs and tables of pain medication administration, pain number scales and explanations of the different types of pain medicine can help flesh out the story. Medical illustrations and videos can be presented to explain internal structural damage that otherwise can only be described. In the medical records, quotes from the patient and descriptions by the caretaking staff can augment and bring a very human element to the story.
Another source of discomfort a client may experience is procedural. By providing a detailed explanation of what a client experiences during procedures; the pain, the embarrassment of body exposure, the discomfort of tubes protruding from the body, pain can be highlighted.
Suffering is demonstrated by examining the mental anguish clients experience, how the injury has impacted the client in psychosocial ways. Did it change their body image, effect their intimate relationships, cause emotional distress or lead to psych medications for depression and anxiety? Did the client lose valuable time with family and friends, a delay in educational aspirations or instability in their business? What did the stress of losing income cause for their family?
CLIENT OR FAMILY INTERVIEWS
One element that is invaluable is the interview of the client (or family, if they are deceased). This interview can provide much needed detail describing the types of physical pain and mental anguish the client experienced.
A listed review of medical procedures, radiographic studies, OT/PT sessions, doctors’ appointments, information about days of hospitalization, days with invasive lines and tubes, and complications that rose from the care they received and other interventions the client has endured can also be eye opening.
All of this together can paint a more complete picture of the total experience of the client and bring the jury closer to understanding the multiple aspects of injury and healing.