I am in the middle of a law case. I have been accused of exaggerating the seriousness of my Fibromyalgia. The doctor for the other side has been shown DVDs of me shopping and walking around and I look normal. Should I be worried? I have done nothing wrong.
Firstly, you may not have exaggerated at all. Whilst there may seem to be a disparity between what you have told doctors and others and how you are shown on DVD, that may be because the DVDs only show relatively short periods of activity. You may be at home resting before you set out and after you come back. You may need to have rested up a day or two before you went on this outing or a day or two afterwards. Has the filming been done on a consecutive days? If you look very closely at the DVDs, is it possible to see that you are actually struggling, yawning, limping or the like. How does your performance on the DVD compare with what you used to do before the accident? Do you have photographs or Witness Statements from family and friends showing what you are capable of doing before the accident and comparing that to your normal everyday life since the accident happened?
Time spent by you and your solicitor studying DVDs is usually time very well spent. Remember – the surveillance operatives are being paid by the Defendant’s insurers to show your activity, not your inactivity and not to show you when you are struggling. The camera may well have panned away or been switched off when you were in difficulties and the DVDs may well give a misleading impression. Careful scrutiny of DVDs by you and your lawyers may be able to make points which turn the DVDs into winning evidence for you rather than condemning you to paltry compensation.
Doctors and Judges are also aware that some exaggeration is perfectly normal. You do not have any obvious disability like a broken limb and therefore there is a great subconscious temptation to over-state disabilities to persuade a sceptical doctor of the seriousness of your Fibromyalgia.
Doctors and lawyers also know Fibromyalgia sufferers will have good and bad days (or, more accurately, bad days and not so bad days).
If the exaggeration looks to have been deliberate, as a way of conning insurers into paying out, you potentially face some very serious trouble. Not only will you receive a very small amount of compensation, but you might also be accused of fraud or Contempt of Court. We always warn clients not to exaggerate either when speaking to doctors or others or when filling in the forms. Be really careful. Emphasis what you can do, rather than just concentrating on what you cannot do. Also avoid blanket assertions like “I never go shopping” when what you probably mean is that “I do not do a big shop on my own”. If that is what you mean say that. If you do activity or exercise, make it plain to the doctors that you are doing this to help with your condition and that you have been advised to do it.
The above question originally appeared in Fibromyalgia Family Magazine
We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.