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Developing Fibromyalgia After Accident

Dear Alexa ,

I wonder whether there have been any reported cases recently of people obtaining substantial damages for developing fibromyalgia after an accident. I know that you believe there obviously can be a link, but I would like to know whether this has been tested at the highest level.

Edgar

Dear Edgar,

An important High Court case was reported this January. It is called “Kieran Murphy v Ministry of Defence”. Mr Murphy was a solider who had an accident whilst serving as a paratrooper. His case was that he developed a chronic widespread pain condition (fibromyalgia) as a result.

The Judge accepted that an accident, particularly one which causes whiplash-type injuries, can trigger fibromyalgia. The judge pointed to a section on chronic pain in the guidelines used by Judges.

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Here there was an initial injury and the fairly quick onset of additional symptoms and spread of symptoms after that. The Judge found that there was a “clear temporal association”. He also noted a clear association between the initial physical injuries and the main sites of the Claimant’s complaints of long-term pain.

The Defendant’s doctor wanted to suggest that the Claimant recovered or nearly recovered from his initial injuries before the fibromyalgia developed (and therefore there was no link between the two). The Judge did not accept this. He found that there had been continuous pain (to a greater or lesser extent) from the accident until the case was heard. The notes may not have suggested this very clearly, but that is because the Claimant was desperately keen to establish that he was medically fit to return to full duties and the army was also keen to reach the conclusion that the Claimant had recovered and was fit for duties. The notes, therefore, painted too optimistic a picture.

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Alexa Robbins

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