Many lawyers and claimants may not be familiar with the term, “somatic symptom disorder”, SSD, when used in personal injury cases. The diagnostic criteria are: 1. One or more somatic symptoms that are distressing; 2. Excessive concerns regarding one’s health which creates problems with anxiety over health concerns;and 3. Symptoms typically persist for more than six months.
The clinical presentation is often complicated by significant preoccupation with pain and time-consuming activities to manage pain in claimants with somatic symptom disorder with predominant complaints of pain as described in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) previously known as chronic pain disorder in DSM IV (Dr. Levin, psychiatrist, explains at para 56 of Pistruga v. Garcia,2014 BCSC 1795).
Pain Disorder Associated with a General Medical Condition and Psychological Factors in the DSM-IVTR has now been re-named “Somatic Symptom Disorder” in the subsequent DSM-V, but the new name and slightly modified criteria do not affect the substance of most expert opinion.
Injury claimants usually continue to have significant somatic symptoms which are related to a diagnosis of chronic Pain Syndrome and soft tissue injuries subsequent to the motor vehicle accident in question. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms are similar but different than the diagnosis of this disorder.
There are many competing and perhaps overlapping diagnoses put forward by the various doctors who have assessed personal injury claimants in BC including conversion disorder, functional movement disorder, major depressive disorder, neurocognitive disorder, personality disorder, adjustment disorder with anxiety, somatic symptom disorder, factitious disorder, and hypochondriasis.
The Court of Appeal has not yet dealt with the condition of somatic symptom disorder. How much compensation should be awarded for SSD, Somatic Symptom Disorder? Here are five from first 2 dozen Supreme Court of BC personal cases dealing with Somatic Symptom Disorder and the amounts awarded for pain and suffering:
$120,000.00 Chahal v. Righele, 2014 BCSC 1086
$120,000.00 Litt v. Guo,2015 BCSC 2207
$125,000.00 Hollyer v. Gaston, 2016 BCSC 1401
$150,000.00 Redmond v. Krider,2015 BCSC 178
$160,000.00 Cornish v. Khunkhun,2015 BCSC 52
Having regard to the conflict of expert medical opinion and required a medicolegal investigation, these cases are best prosecuted with an experienced personal injury lawyer.