Pain is one of the most talked about (and least understood) of the things for which people recover damages. An article in the Wall Street Journal recently talked about how doctors struggle with pain.
The article discusses how doctors are moving away from quantifying pain. Instead they are looking at the limitations pain causes. I think this is a step in the right direction.
Think about it. When you are asked, “How bad does it hurt?” your choice of responses is limited to “a little” or “a lot.” Those respones can be interpreted in many ways, too; frequency, intensity, area, sensitivity – there are so many qualities to pain it’s nearly impossible to be comprehensive.
However, when you put that pain into the context of everyday life, you identify the quality of that pain by making it relatable to the person with whom you are trying to communicate. “I used to be able to sit for hours on end – now my back pain forces me to stand up and stretch every 10 minutes.” The ‘amount’ of pain becomes less important than the limiting aspects of it. The way pain disables you, is just as important as feeling the pain itself, when it comes to recognizing it as a compensable damage.
If you are suffering with pain, or represented by someone who’s job it is to describe your pain, look for examples of how that pain limits your daily activities. Sitting, walking, opening doors, lifting, bending – all of the things we take for granted each day are signs of pain. Anecdotal evidence can be very compelling. When you relate moments in time, you are taking the listener with you and putting them in your shoes – giving them the opportunity to consider what the disability would mean to them under the same circumstances.