It is widely recognised that bringing a personal injury claim can be a stressful process. In addition to the distress and pain, both emotional and physical, of experiencing an injurious incident, the complex and lengthy nature of subsequent litigation is an extra stress which can reinforce or exacerbate the initial incident related problems. It affects the way a claimant thinks (T), lives his daily like (lifestyle), communicates with those around him (C) and general behaviour (B). Before exploring this TCLB mechanism further, what js stressful about litigation? The list below is not exhaustive but indicates the main stressful issues the claimant has to deal with:
Discussing waiting for discussion over liability.
- Dealing with complex paperwork.
- In depth interviews with lawyer.
- Scheduling appointments with medical experts.
- Travelling to/from experts clinics.
- In depth, complex interviews with experts.
- Perusal and checking of legal and medical documentation.
- Reconciling perception of “injustice” with legal logic and expert independence.
- Lengthy nature of litigation process, typically being completed on average 2-3 years post incident.
- ‘Spectre’ of possible court attendances and further scrutiny.
So what should the claimant do to manage litigation stress?
Thinking positively and logically about litigation (T)
- Try and differentiate between the accident -related injuries and the litigation process itself.
- Ask your lawyer for information about what will happen over the litigation period don’t be nervous to repeat the discussion to be clearer.
- Understand that your lawyer, experts and counsel will all be friendly and sympathetic and also have a duty to be accurate, impartial and independently minded. This is in your benefit ultimately.
- Anticipate positively that the claim will settle eventually!
- Don’t feel bad or angry, just be accurate. The system will then be able to help you more.
Keep healthy during the litigation period (L)
Given the extended period of time during which the litigation is being undertaken, be sure to keep yourself healthy.
- Maintain a healthy diet with regular meals and between-meal
- Hydrate regularly and maintain alcohol consumption to recommended levels.
- Be active and exercise moderately and on a regular basis.
- Use this period to reduce and stop smoking – an additional positive outcome.
Talk positively with others involved in the claim (c)
Regular and effective communication with the various people involved with you making a claim will help you feel less alone, burdened and stressed. This includes your lawyer, medical experts, your GP and friends and family.
Keep in regular contact with your lawyer by letter, email or telephone – he’s on your side, so talk to him as often as you need. Share any information, approaching appointments and concerns with your partner or friend – they can help you to remain focused and logical and optimistic.
Go to medical interviews in a positive frame of mind – doctors preparing reports are there to be independent and accurate. Empathy is easier if you don’t exaggerate and are realistic and accurate.
Despite I pain and suffering’ you are experiencing, try and maintain a smiling, approachable facial expression and attitude.
Relax throughout and be organised (B)
At any stage of the litigation, you may feel physically and mentally stressed and ion edge’. This may be caused or exacerbated by the paperwork, practical arrangements and time constraints you are under. Your ability to relax and be organised is paramount.
- Relax on a regular basis either t instantly’ by taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, or systematically over 5-10 minutes of relaxing your muscles in a comfortable chair. This calm feeling builds up during each day.
- Use this when going to litigation – related meetings or when filling out a document or reply for your lawyer.
- Organise your paperwork from the start – have a lclaim’ file where all correspondence and documents go. Keep brief notes on what you do and a list of “to do” tasks. Review this from time to time to keep on track and (BE?) clear.
- Keep on top of deadlines using your calendar. When you have meetings to go to, allow extra time and research the journey and travel arrangements. If you are calm because you are in control of your part, this will help to make meetings go better.
This TLCB approach involves a number of simple t Active Steps’ which can make the claimant feel more comfortable and in control when being involved in a claim.
If they want more information, point them towards ‘Active Steps to Reducing Stress’ (Koch & Koch) price €9.99 from www.brackenbooks.co.uk or local book store.