After an accident, some injury victims suffer from pain that lingers long after any visible injuries have healed. Known as “chronic pain” and sometimes even “chronic pain syndrome,” this type of pain can be debilitating. Statistics also show that chronic pain is much more common than previously thought.
Part of the difficulty in obtaining fair compensation for chronic pain is that it varies from person to person. WebMD defines chronic pain as pain that last longer than six months. It goes on to state: “Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating.”
With such a broad range of severity from individual to individual, it can be difficult to prove precisely how chronic pain interferes with an injury plaintiff’s lifestyle, work abilities, and relationships. Even the Supreme Court of Canada has stated that “there is no authoritative definition of chronic pain.”
How Many People Suffer from Chronic Pain?
Although estimates vary, the CBC reports that approximately one in five Canadians suffers from some form of chronic pain. The numbers are higher for certain demographics, such as seniors and women. Data gathered by Statistics Canada reveals that 27 per cent of seniors living at home and 38 per cent living in residential care facilities experience chronic pain.
Alberta’s Minor Injury Regulation
Many injury victims afflicted with chronic pain worry that their compensation is subject to a cap under Alberta’s Minor Injury Regulation. Currently, the minor injury cap in Alberta is $4,892 for 2015. Although injuries like short-lived sprains, strains, and whiplash are typically capped at this amount, there is significant case law supporting the approach that chronic pain is not a minor injury and is therefore not subject to the cap.
This is significant, because it allows chronic pain sufferers to receive the full compensation they need to recover, heal, and reclaim their lives. However, it’s important to understand that this is a highly complex area of law that is constantly evolving. Individuals who seek compensation for chronic pain after a personal injury should speak with a lawyer about their case to ensure they fully explore their options.