Pain is essential for survival. It warns us that a particular situation is dangerous, for example, if you put your hand on a hot element the pain you feel alerts you to remove it before acute injury occurs. But in some cases, pain is long term and serves no useful purpose. Doctors who are experts in pain call this chronic pain. If this is present in a legal case involving personal injury, crime, employment claims, family proceedings, or dental claims, a pain expert witness is essential in assisting the Court with understanding why a person is suffering from pain, the source of the pain, and if applicable, the management of the pain.
Our pain expert witnesses are experienced medical practitioners who have specialist knowledge on the mental and physical elements of pain and how chronic pain affects the lives of patients and their families. We provide clear and detailed reports, and our experts have experience of providing evidence for the claimant and the defendant in civil cases and the prosecution and defence in criminal cases.
We are one of the busiest expert witness teams in England, Scotland, and Wales. In most circumstances, we can turn around a report in 14 days of assessing your client and the supporting document you have provided.
Below are the most frequent questions we are asked regarding chronic pain and our team’s pain management expertise.
What is pain?
To understand our world, humans have developed a complex sensory system comprised of hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. These systems have evolved to ensure we survive – for example, the reason your toddler is a fussy eater is that our ancestors on the African savannah had to be exceptionally wary of trying new foods in case they were poisonous. Scientists call this the Omnivore’s dilemma and it has been recognised in other species as well as our own.
Many of us believe that pain is transmitted through a single channel from the nerve to the brain. This theory, advanced by the philosopher and scientist René Descartes dominated how we understood and treated pain for over 330 years. However, this theory did not explain the anomalies of pain, for example:
- Why do people continue to experience pain when a limb has been amputated?
- Why does simply cutting the nerves not reduce chronic pain?
- Why does pain sometimes appear in a different part of the body from the source (i.e a heart attack patient may feel pain in their left arm).
In the 1960s, scientists set about answering these questions and came up with the ‘pain gate’ theory which is now accepted in the medical world. It states that nerves from across the body run to the spinal cord – the first main meeting point for the nervous system. If you imagine the spinal cord having a series of ‘gates’ into which messages regarding pain arrive from all over the body and are sent to the brain. These gates are sometimes open more widely than at other times. The wider the gate, the more pain messages pass through to the brain.
Factors that open the gates more widely include:
- Stress and tension.
- Negative mental factors such as depression or loneliness.
- Lack of activity.
Factors that narrow the gates include:
- Relaxation and contentment.
- A positive mindset.
- Physical activity.
- Therapies such as acupuncture and massage.
Our pain management expert witnesses have an in-depth understanding of the science of pain and can communicate the latest developments in plain English to the Court.
Why engage a pain expert witness?
Pain expert witnesses and report writers focus on the finest of details of a particular incident. Having this type of knowledge can make a significant difference when it comes to building a clear and robust prosecution, claim, or defence. For example:
- Personal injury pain specialists – can provide evidence on how the Claimant is experiencing pain and why, plus the long-term impact on their future quality of life and ability to earn an income.
- Clinical negligence pain specialists – chronic pain can be caused through surgical negligence or wrong or missed diagnosis. Our pain expert witnesses can examine why the event occurred and report on the long-term damage to the patient’s physical and mental health.
- Employment law claims involving pain – in cases involving discrimination or unfair dismissal, a pain expert witness can examine the Claimant and give evidence on their current condition and the adjustments required to ensure they can work in the future.
Our pain specialists are not merely concerned with the minutiae of a matter; a core part of their role is to translate often highly complex technical and disconnected medical details in a way that is easily digestible when presented in Court.
Instructing our services and costs
If you would like to find out more about how our pain specialists can assist in your legal matter, please call us on 01865 587865, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or request a call by completing our online form. We will arrange a time for you to speak to one of our pain expert witnesses who will listen to the details of the case and advise the best way forward.
Should you choose to engage our services, our pain expert witnesses will need as much information as possible on the case, including, but not limited to:
- Why the report is needed.
- The type of case (e.g. personal injury, criminal injury).
- The facts of the case and particulars of the claim.
- The current status of the patient.
- Witness statements.
- Medical notes (primary and hospital – where relevant).
- Any relevant dates and timescales the expert should be aware of (e.g. court dates)
If any other relevant information is available, this should also be provided (e.g. maps, photos, diagrams, correspondence, Court Orders).
Where necessary and appropriate, we can arrange for our pain specialist to meet with the client to undertake a clinical examination.
The costs of the pain expert witness report will be explained in full at the outset and will be based on the time needed to undertake the assessment process and draft the report. If required, our pain expert witness will attend the Court hearing to provide evidence and answer any questions necessary.