CRPS: The true cost of an incident?

CRPS: How can one begin to explain chronic pain?

For those who have never experienced constant chronic pain typically seen in CRPS, it is a foreign language, always just around the peripheral but never omnipresent. It serves a purpose to keep us safe, but it is never intended to stay for long. The injury heals,time moves on and so does the pain. That is the way it has always been.

Until one day it doesn’t, instead it lingers and invades every aspect of your daily life.

There are two different ages in my life that I mark as before and after being diagnosed with CRPS. Before diagnosis, I could outrun circles around a circle. After diagnosis, I am lucky if I am able to put my own shoes on.

It is hard for people who have never experienced this constant nagging, burning pain to comprehend this.

So many times that I have lost count I have been told that “These things take time, you will be better by (time frame).” That time frame always comes and goes as a minor blip on the calendar and I am worse, not in any way better.

I was made aware of an interesting case of a woman who claims to have been injured by a wine bottle whilst out shopping. She claims that a result of this injury is that she has developed CRPS. She says that because the wine was not placed in a double bag that the bag tore resulting in her injury. As a result of this belief and due to the nature of the injury, she has decided to file a claim against the store for 8.3 million dollars. 

Woman Sues for 8.3 Million

I shared this story with friends outside of the CRPS community and got reactions in a large range.  Many called her greedy and selfish and some commented that she didn’t need that amount of money. Some also said that she was making it look worse by complaining about the use of a crutch.

I will not deny for a lot of reasons we are a “sue for no reason” type of society at times, but this is the one time where this Author believes this is a justifiable number that covers the need.

Imagine that you are middle aged and you have been putting what little savings you have aside for retirement with the rest eventually going to your kids.
One day you do something you have done a million times before and go to the store. This is something we all do almost every week, only for this lady fate had another idea.
A wine bottle breaks through a plastic bag and lands on her foot creating a series of unfortunate events leading to the development of CRPS.

Suddenly all of your carefully laid plans are uprooted and dashed to the four winds. You can’t work, can’t care for yourself let alone others. A well provided family can turn destitute almost over night due to this disease.

Suddenly you have to account for paying for medications, doctors, co-pays and specialists that you never knew existed. Your days become a mix of taking medications for pain, having procedures just to keep minimal function, taking more medication for the side effects of the procedures and yet more medications for the pain. These are just the minor things and already the bill has steadily begun to increase, soon becoming very high indeed.  Eventually you have to move on to surgical procedures that often stretch to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time.

All the while there is still the family to provide for,  but how is this even possible?
In today’s society we cannot go like our past ancestors and live on only one salary. More and more families now depend on having two bread winners to ensure stability in the home.
What if suddenly one of these crutches breaks?

Let’s do a bit of Math:

  1. Average Income of a Family in the United States- $51,939(1)
  2. “Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage $16,351 this year, with workers on average paying $4,565 toward the cost of their coverage” (2)
  3. Average Mortgage per year- $12,876 (3)
  4. Cost of Food (Low Budget, for One Year) – $7228– about $139 per week (4)
  5. Co-pays- Four Appointments a month (PT, GP, Specialist, and Pain Management.) Average is about $20 an appt.- $960 a year.

Let us start there. Let’s cut the average income in half since we are all for equality- $25,969.50

Minus Insurance-$21,404.50

Minus Mortgage- $8528.50

Minus Food- $1300.50

Minus Copays-$340.50

We are left with $340.50
That is $28.37 a month and we have not even covered taxes, car insurance, utilities and other necessities.
CRPS truth about income

Suddenly we can see the dire situation we are in and we are headed into the red pretty fast.

According to the article they say the lawsuit is:
“seeking non-economic damages for pain and suffering of $4.2 million, plus nearly $4.1 million in economic damages from $74,048 in medical expenses plus expected future medical expenses, loss of earned income and other expenses.” (5)

She is asking the highest number hoping to reach the stars below. I know I would do the same if someone asked me, “What is my life worth?”
She is doing the best thing that she knows how to do, with the ability she has left. Provide for herself and her family, it is just in a different way to somebody else.

What are your thoughts on this case and do you believe that the amount being sought is excessive? 

Please leave a comment below and let us know your opinion as we love to read your comments!

Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States#/media/File:US_Real_Household_Median_Income_thru_2014.png
  2. http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/health-insurance-premiums.aspx
  3. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/03/23/heres-the-average-americans-mortgage-payment-by-ag.aspx
  4. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/05/01/grocery-costs-for-family/2104165/
  5. http://www.mailtribune.com/article/20160201/NEWS/160209975/101033/NEWS
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10 Responses to CRPS: The true cost of an incident?

  1. Combs says:

    Love this it’s a great eye opener to how bad the economy is set up.

  2. Angelica Heavner says:

    As someone who just went through a lawsuit against a hospital for damages that they caused, I can honestly say that amount is excessive. Depends on the area where you live, the type of insurance you carry, and a whole lot on the jury. Most people are average citizens and they will not give you that amount of money because “they don’t know if the money is going where it’s supposed to “. Yes I am quoting here from juries. Personally some of that is excessive but not all. The experts will do a cost evaluation of expenses now til what they see as life expectancy. Those numbers will be alot lower than what they are asking.
    I am sorry for this person position. Believe me it sucks. We were asking 1.4 million which was the max allowed in the state (another problem) that is not what we got. Good luck from one CRPS Warrior to another.

  3. Gina says:

    When I see what people are able to sue for in civil suits it really does make me sick. I am only 30 years old and was diagnosed with CRPS 4 years ago from a work related injury. In my case I am dealing with Workers Compensation and I am lucky to be making the bear minimum and have been denied disability twice. There is no consideration on how the price of life goes up, my income remains the same. I have lost function in my dominant arm and loosing function in my other arm with burning pain 24/7. There is no suing anyone for Pain or suffering in the State of New York with workers comp.
    I LOVED my job. It wasn’t just a job it was my career, my life. I was just starting out. Now at age 30 I can not work, and it is miserable. All I can do is hope one day there will be a chance for me to heal and get back into the workforce, in order to make the money to save for retirement and my family.
    So for me, I understand the increase in medical bills and medications and every evil thing that comes with CRPS, but for someone who was injured on the job, working, while giving money to the government every paycheck, is screwed out of every dollar and even the proper medical care, and constant waiting on approvals from the court, I do not believe that someone who had a accident in a super market should be able to sue for an astronomical amount of money as this women. Really 4.2 million for pain and suffering, while others can not even get the proper medical they need in regards to CRPS!

    • Sharon says:

      I’m going through the same as you. Hurt at a job I loved as a nurse. Hurt my shoulder, had 2 surgeries when I started complaining about my arm and hand painted. I was told by the ortho who did my my shoulder surgery I most likely had Raynauds and blew me off. Told me to just give it time. Two more shoulder surgeries and my hand and arm just kept getting worse. I’ve seen a vascular surgeon, neurologist and finally the last ortho actually looked at my hand and said he believed I had RSD and wanted me to be seen by a hand specialist and pain management and that it was urgent. I was finally authorized for pain management, but still nothing on hand specialist. It took weeks to get authorization for one nerve block, which helped minimally. Apparently that was his confirmation that I do indeed have RSD. Now I’m waiting for authorization for a series of nerve blocks all while workers comp takes their time. I spend almost all of my time laying in bed with tons of pillows and sometimes just cry until I fall asleep. Workers comp will never offer me a settlement of the amount this woman is shooting for. We suffer, wait, see doctors we wouldn’t choose and this woman is set. Laws need to change for those of us that have been injured at work and end up with this horrific disease.

  4. Lynne Wilburn says:

    As a former paralegal I know that when you file a lawsuit the lawyers tell you to claim a huge amount, hoping to get even a portion of it. Anyone who has experienced a lawsuit with damages will tell you that they were told to claim the highest amount possible.

    • Naanad says:

      That’s definitely what my experience was with my car accident. We started at 80k. Ended at 30k, which 1/3 went to the lawyer, 1/3 went to my past due medical bills, and 1/3 went to me to cover my past due bills. In the time I was forced to be off work, I would have made twice that.

  5. Lorre Mendelson says:

    I think all of us expect a life with positive aspects: none of us thinks we will acquire a disability at any time. When it does, we are shocked, often in pain and emotionally lost. My injuries were all coded by a medicine my sleep doctor prescribed that can cause falls- and it did but I cannot prove it. I looked into suing but after consulting with a number of attys around the country, it did not appear I had a case. So many medical bills and so much pain. How DO you measure pain. I don’t think it is my place to judge if this is too much or not enough. best, Lorre

  6. CRPS mom says:

    Thank you for sharing this! What an incredible story.
    If the store failed to fulfill all measures to ensure a patron’s safety, then they should be liable for all her injuries and expenses. If that results in a life-time of pain and disability, so be it. If the woman merely broke her toe and the courts ruled in her favor, the same rules would apply. No one can ever predict what someone’s injuries will be.
    If a surgeon commits malpractice and it results in physical injuries and CRPS, would this judge offer the same ruling?
    I would hope so, and sincerely hope this reward sets a precedent and makes this woman’s life a little less easier emotionally and physically so that she can secure the ongoing care she needs for the rest of her life.

  7. A NJ CRPS Angel says:

    My CRPS was caused by a work related injury. I was 19 when I started having CRPS symptoms in my right foot. All the calls, doctor appointments and everything definitely took its toll on me. At the time I was working 4 PT jobs and going to College FT!. It was pure craziness. The treatment that the original Podiatrist gave me was useless and made absolutely no sense. He also lied in his dictation that eventually was seen by the lawyers, the Judge, and everyone else who had a hand in deciding my future.
    I hired a workman’s comp lawyer either in the end of 1999 or beginning of 2000, I forget. Around 6 years later in 2006 we won my lawsuit. I believe after everyone was paid I maybe brought home about $9,500. Here it is 10 years later and I feel like a total a**!!! I feel we should’ve asked for more, and pushed for a longer time period of being able to reopen and reappear in front of the Judge. By this time the CRPS had spread from my right foot up my leg to my hip and I was already experiencing symptoms in the left foot. Of course by the time the symptoms on the left foot and leg were beginning to be real noticeable and an actual concern the 2 year time period to reopen had ended. 🙁 I should’ve fought for more time and more money. I didn’t realize back then how bad things could and would get.:(
    Here it is 10 years after winning the lawsuit and there are minimal parts of my body that CRPS hasn’t invaded. I was 19 when I incurred the injury that brought CRPS into my body, I am now 36. I can no longer work. Some days I can not get out of bed. About 4-5 years ago I was basically bedridden for 4 months. By the grace of God I was somehow able to get from my bed to the bathroom which was around the corner from my room. I was Not however able to wash my hair really. Showering didn’t occur often. I would go days without eating or having a drink of water. I had no one at my childhood home to help me. Mom had died in 2006. Dad had a TIA that August which left him in a nursing home with dementia and my brother lived half hour away with a family of his own. It took him over a month to offer to go food shopping for me. Also 2 weeks into this time of pure hell I had fallen down a flight of stairs and partially dislocated my left shoulder. The CRPS spread to that shoulder down to my fingers. I eventually had 5 days of high dose Ketamine infusions which got me out of a wheelchair, able to bathe myself, and on better days get out and do things. Not long after I finally applied for Disability.
    I’ve been denied 3 times. I had my hearing in front of the Judge who also denied me. This was last July(2015). My Disability Lawyer has us in the appeals court now. Been praying that they overthrow the Judges decision and grant me Permanent Disability.
    At this point in my journey with CRPS , I feel like a burden. I’ve CRPS from my right foot all the way up to under my armpit, yes including my abdomen and side of my body. It is in my left foot and leg up to my hip. Then it is in my left shoulder down to my fingers thanks to my fall down the stairs. Also thanks to surgery to remove my gallbladder and a drain it is also in my liver and inside my abdominal cavity. Thanks to a slip and fall on ice this past Winter 2015, it is spreading to my right arm and hand.
    So please tell me how that $9,500 was supposed to last me 16 years?? Now I am unable to work. I try to babysit 1-2 days a week just to pay for gas, oil changes, car insurance, cell phone, and the parking garages down by my all my Doctors’ offices, oh yeah rent, and if I’ve any money left…food. Then after doing this day or two of babysitting, when I’m able to, I end up spending the rest of the days in bed, in AGONY. This is why the Judge denied me, by the way.
    Did I mention I also have IBS and a lot of other Medical issues. CRPS has also affected my memory, sometimes I’ll be trying to say one thing, something else comes out of my mouth. There is also a disconnect between my brain and my legs.
    Honestly, the amount a person is awarded should be based on their age, how long the Disability will affect their life, if there is a cure or not for their Disability, what their quality of life was before and After the injury or Disability occurred. Also maybe a set amount shouldn’t be agreed upon right away. Because if their Disability can continue to progressively get worse and affect more areas of their body and their life then maybe the case should be allowed to be reopened indefinitely!
    Sorry for this long drawn out answer. Keep fighting fellow Angels and Please try to Stay Strong!!! God bless.

  8. Dave says:

    I was injured in 2008 while incarcerated in Colorado prison. I broke my wrist during yard time. I was taken to a hospital, X-rayed, casted & discharged back to the prison. It wasn’t long until I was having really bad bouts of pain and burning in my wrist and fingers. The nurses noticed my fingers were quite swollen, even though my cast was not to tight on my arm. The prison doctor (a Ortho specialist) refused to see me, saying that swelling is a part of the healing process. It took another 10 days before the doc finally saw me. He decided to remove my cast and put me in sugar tong splint, securing it to my wrist and arm up to my elbow with ace wraps. The pain, the swelling and the burning continued with no help from the doctor. Ultimately a new doctor takes over at the prison, he noticed that by that time, I had been in that splint for almost 10 weeks. He immediately removed the splint, revealing a grossly swollen hand and a wrist with an obviously pronounced deformity. Due to my complaints of the pain, burning and some densitivity in my fingers, the doc requested the prison send me to a specialist. They denied his request twice before okaying it. So I broke my wrist in June of 2008 and with all my complaints and obvious swelling, it still took until December before they okayed the request for the specialist. By this time, I’m suffering from color changes in my fingers & palm, excessive sweating and pain, so much pain. When they transport me they had to handcuff me, I literally screamed when they clicked that cuff on to my wrist. I cried almost all the way to the specialists office. It was in that office that I first heard that horrific diagnosis, RSD/CRPS. I had no idea what it was, I just wanted it to stop. I had to suffer through an EMG and I can honestly say that the guards had to hold me down each time that EMG needle was stuck into my arm, I felt like I was being tortured. Finally, the specialist diagnosis me with RSD/CRPS & CTS. However, that diagnosis meant nothing to the prison. For the next 4 years I had to deal with the horrible advancement of this disease by begging the doctor to see me and to please do something about the pain. I think one time he prescribed Tylenol 3 twice a day for 1 week. That’s like throwing a thimble of water onto a 4 alarm fire. I finally contacted an attorney who started the lawsuit against one of the private prison companies that works in Colorado & the first doctor who cared for me. My suit claimed violations of my constitutional rights. My lawsuit lasted for years, we were shot down at the state level and we had moved to the federal courts where we were in mediation with the prison & doctor. The prison & the doctor claimed they did nothing wrong and that I was most likely lying because I was a criminal to begin with. My lawyer amassed all kinds of work ups from different kinds of specialist, I could not believe that the prison was even fighting me on this, especially after reading the reports from the specialists. However, the one hurdle I could not overcome was that even if everybody had done everything exactly right, the chance of me contracting RSD/CRPS would still be there. Through this process, I found out that many doctors do not give any credence to the idea if RSD/CRPS. They think the patient is simply drug-seeking. My lawyer finally told me that she believed that our best chance was in a settlement. Due to confidentiality agreement that I was forced to sign, I can not tell you the amount that they settled for. Yet, I can tell you what they didn’t/wouldn’t settle for, which is 100k or more. Trying to win a lawsuit where the injuries is RSD/CRPS is extremely difficult, at least from my experience. In the wine bottle to the foot case, I know many people probably think the woman is greedy or even faking her injury just to get paid, but coming from a person who suffers with this disease, from a man who is losing the use of his dominant right hand, from a man who has to deal with the pain, burning, swelling and worst of all the doctors, who mostly believe you are just drug seeking. I have been released from prison and off parole for 2 years now and yet I still have to provide a urine sample once a month at my pain doctors office. Having to deal with all the physical & mental anguish brought on by this disease, I can tell you that the amount of money she is suing for is peanuts. It’s peanuts because no amount of money covers the look on your kids face when you can’t play catch with him, or you can’t go to his wrestling match because you are afraid someone may bump into you and those peanuts are not enough to cover all the other mental anguishes we suffer through. There is not a day that goes by that I not consider making that day my last on this earth, because the pain is real and the burning is real and yes it really hurts that bad. No amount of money makes up for that type of life.

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