An Overview of Phantom Pain and Its Compensation
Phantom pain means pain on a limb or body part that you no longer have. For example, you might feel pain in your left ankle even after losing the left leg from the knee down. Phantom pain is real even though you experience it in a nonexistent body part. Below is an overview of phantom pain and its compensation in an injury claim.
Pain is your body's way of letting you know something is wrong. That way, you can take relevant measures, such as medication, to correct the wrong. The affected body part sends problem signals to the brain, which synthesizes them as pain. Doctors believe that phantom pain arises due to a mix-up in the part of your brain that processes pain.
Say you crush your leg in an auto accident, and doctors amputate the leg since it's beyond saving. Ideally, your brain should detect that the leg is no longer there. However, your brain can misinterpret other signals as leg pain if the nerve connections that handle signals from your leg remain in place.
Phantom pain has multiple signs and symptoms. For example:
- The pain might appear days, weeks, or months after limb loss.
- The pain might be continuous or intermittent.
- The pain can manifest in different ways, such as throbbing, stabbing, or shooting sensations.
- Different things, including urination, sexual intercourse, and weather changes, can trigger the pain.
Like other injuries, phantom pain varies from person to person. Thus, you might have phantom pain even if it doesn't sound like a conventional description of phantom pain. The main identifier is that you will feel the pain in a body part you don't have and not in an existing injury site.
As an accident victim, you deserve compensation for every hurt you have suffered in the accident. You should include your phantom pain in your compensation demand. Phantom pain compensation can take either of these two forms.
In personal injury law, special damages are out-of-pocket losses you have suffered from an accident. Special damages are easy to quantify since they are the total of the money you have spent or lost due to the accident. Examples include car damage, medical bills, and lost wages.
Phantom pain falls under special damages if your doctor diagnoses you with the pain and prescribes medical treatment for it. Treatment for phantom pain can take different forms. For example, you may need different medications, such as:
- Pain medications, such as narcotics
- Muscle relaxers
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
Alternative medication may also help. For example, your doctor may advise you to seek:
- Acupuncture treatment
- Massage therapy
- Music therapy
In some cases, you may need multiple forms of treatments and medications. Your medical records should contain these treatments and their costs. Use your medical records to prove your phantom pain's existence and treatment cost.
Note that alternative treatment methods alone might not be strong evidence. Combine them with standard medical treatment to strengthen your case. Otherwise, the defendant might downplay the pain.
General damages have a clear link between the plaintiff's injuries and the defendant's actions but are not easy to quantify. The damages include both physical and psychological effects of the accident. Examples of general damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain
- Decreased quality of life
- Shortened life expectancy
Phantom pain forms part of general damages if you want the defendant to compensate you for the actual pain and not its treatment costs. In this case, the compensation for the phantom pain will depend on:
- Injury severity
- The level of the defendant's negligence
- The available evidence
Your injury lawyer will play a big role in your general damages award.
Contact Palmetto Injury Lawyers for all your personal injury cases. We will use the free initial consultation to review your case and determine how to pursue your damages.