Thanks to Brian Barr Solicitors, a fibromyalgia patient has now received £330,000 in compensation.
A major personal injury solicitors firm has agreed to pay £330,000 in damages to a fibromyalgia sufferer after it was discovered that they had not investigated their condition properly and had only been willing to award them with £1,810 for their accident claim.
Matthew H had appointed solicitors shortly after a van drove into the back of his van at high speed on a motorway. He suffered mainly neck, back and shoulder pain before developing multiple joint pains. His GP promptly diagnosed him with fibromyalgia. By this time, the solicitors had instructed an experienced GP medical expert to see Mr H and prepare a report.
Mr H told his previous solicitors that he had already been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and that he thought it had been caused by the accident. They told him to relay this information on to the GP expert when he visited to have the report completed. The GP expert mentioned the fibromyalgia, but said in his report that “…this cannot be attributed to the index accident, as there is no medical evidence base to support this association.”
The claims handler at the previous solicitors did not query the GP report. Mr H recalls being told that it was extremely difficult to prove a link between an accident and fibromyalgia. Others told him the same and so, he settled his claim for £1,810, still suffering with his condition.
Some two years later, Mr H attended a fibromyalgia support group meeting where he was told that there were solicitors who were more supportive towards chronic pain compensation claims, such as Brian Barr Solicitors. As a result, Mr H approached us to ask if we could take on the case, arguing that his previous solicitors should have obtained an opinion from a Consultant Rheumatologist, without just relying on a GP expert, and that rheumatologist would probably have supported the link between the accident and the development of the fibromyalgia.
We instructed a Consultant Rheumatologist, who was supportive, and his previous solicitors’ insurers also did the same. He agreed that there was a temporal connection between the accident and the onset of fibromyalgia, however, argued that Mr H would have developed fibromyalgia in any event within about six months, as he was obviously vulnerable to it. That argument was largely ignored.
The insurers for his previous solicitors also had Mr H placed under surveillance for some 15 days to try to prove that his fibromyalgia was not as extreme as he had originally claimed. This too largely failed, as he was rarely seen out of the house and his activity levels were very modest.
In a settlement that will send shockwaves throughout the legal profession, Mr H received £330,000 plus his costs, in compensation. He had, in effect, lost the chance of obtaining substantial damages in his original accident claim due to the failure to investigate the fibromyalgia properly.
After the settlement, Mr Barr, of Brian Barr Solicitors, said:
“I am so pleased for Matthew H. He has had to fight long and hard for this compensation and he thoroughly deserves it. It is just so unfortunate that the solicitors whom he instructed never went beyond a GP expert on the issue of fibromyalgia, even though he had no experience in rheumatology and his qualifications were only those of a GP. So many people have ongoing pain when they settle their claims, often for very modest amounts, and they may take heart from this settlement that it is possible to do something about it if you have been seriously under-compensated within the last six years.”
Counsel, Fiona Ashworth, said:
“The courts are sympathetic to the proposition that serious widespread pain conditions can result from relatively minor soft tissue injuries. For years, we have warned the profession that chronic pain conditions can evolve slowly and that measures should be put in place to ensure that these cases do not slip through the net. Fortunately, in this case, we have been able to get the damages that Mr H needs.”
The claimant, Matthew H, said:
“When I was initially diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I thought that I could finally get answers as to why I was experiencing all the pain, fatigue and whole host of other symptoms, which appear as a result of fibromyalgia. This wasn’t the case. I quickly learned that, in fact, I could find very little information. What I was certain about was that I had none of these symptoms before the RTA, but quickly developed them soon after.
“I told the ‘personal injury specialist’ solicitor, who was representing me at the time, about the diagnosis and my certainty that it was caused by the collision. They didn’t seem to really put any importance into this, but did suggest I mention it during a medical assessment that they had previously arranged, which I did.
“The solicitor agreed with the doctor’s report that it would be difficult to connect fibromyalgia with the RTA. They advised me of this and, even though I knew there was a connection, I settled for a very small amount.
“I could no longer continue in my employment. I had a young family, no future, and became very depressed.
“Some years later, I found an advert for Brian Barr Solicitors, who are specialists in dealing with fibromyalgia claims. I spoke with Brian, who from the start was very knowledgeable. I finally felt that I had somebody who really understood my situation and was willing to fight my case.
“Brian and I worked with Fiona Ashworth, a barrister at Kings Chambers. Fiona also has an outstanding knowledge of fibromyalgia. She made me feel calm and confident and I cannot thank her enough.
“We finally settled for a life-changing amount, which immediately gave me hope for a better future. My family and I will be forever grateful for the hard work and professionalism Brian Barr and his team provided.”