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When determining the value of a client’s claim for general damages, it stands to reason that a litigator must first be able to accurately identify and thereafter describe their client’s pain. After all, how can you determine the extent of suffering for which you are seeking compensation without first pinpointing the exact nature of your client’s pain?

Is your client suffering from acute pain or persistent pain? The two terms are used to describe a wide variety of pain syndromes. Keeping in mind that an accurate description of your client’s condition is vital to successful settlement negotiations, what terminology should you use when describing your client’s pain?

Simply put, acute pain is generally of recent onset and lasts a relatively short period of time, usually measured in days or weeks. Acute Pain is simply a symptom of a disease process which is experienced in (or around) tissue which has been injured or is otherwise diseased. Acute pain is expected to resolve as the underlying injury or disease resolves. Pyschological symptoms associated with acute pain are minimal and are usually limited to episodes of mild anxiety.

Persistent or chronic pain is generally defined as being pain that does not resolve after the cause has been corrected. Unlike acute pain, which serves a protective biological function by warning of on going tissue damage, persistent or chronic pain serves no biological function. Persistent or chronic pain is a disease process and not a symptom of an underlying injury or disease. This type of pain is unrelenting and not self-limiting lasting for more than 3 to 6 months.

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