October 07, 2020
An injury disrupts your life. Your body can no longer do what you want and need it to do. You are missing time from work. The loss of income is stressful! You are in pain all the time, and it hurts when you cook, do laundry, or cut the grass. Forget exercising – it hurts to move!
You may also have anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares or flashbacks where the crash keeps replaying in your mind, what psychologists call post-traumatic stress disorder.
For many people, the worst part of an injury is that you feel like a different person, and you are sad to think the “former” you, the one that was healthy and able to work, play, and do all the things you want to do, will never return.
You may be experiencing GRIEF.
In her revolutionary book, “On Death and Dying,” psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross discusses the Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. These steps that people commonly experience when suffering the death of a loved one, can also apply to people who have suffered an injury, as follows:
- Denial – You experience shock and fear of what has happened; you refuse to believe you are really hurt, or that you need medical or legal help. Some people will refuse to go to the doctor or hospital, and their injuries may become more difficult to treat because of the delay. You may also think you don’t need a lawyer, and you may lose your legal rights from expiring deadlines for filing a lawsuit or notice of injury.
- Anger – You are angry at the person who caused your injury. You may also be angry and lash out at others who are trying to help you deal with your situation, family members or friends telling you to go to the doctor or call a lawyer. You think, “I can handle this myself!”
- Bargaining – You tell yourself that if you just relax or rest, or keep working, the problem will go away by itself, even though you know you may have a serious injury. You might think that living better or being nicer to your family will cause your luck to change. If you have a serious injury, you cannot bargain your way to health – you must see a doctor! And if you have a legal problem, a lawyer should do your negotiating for you!
- Depression – After denial, anger, and bargaining have not worked, you may think nothing will work, and your situation is hopeless. You may feel sad, become withdrawn from your family and friends, and feel sad. Depression strikes different people differently, but the people closest to you will know if you are not “yourself,” and it is important to get help, as depression can be dangerous if it is not treated. People can become depressed when they think their legal situation is too difficult to manage. Lawyers cannot treat depression, but a good lawyer can help you understand the steps that can be taken to remedy your legal situation, and help you find treatment options for depression.
- Acceptance – For people with severe injuries, life may never be the same as it was before you were injured. That does not mean life after an injury is hopeless. Once you understand the reality of your injury, take steps to treat your injury, engage an attorney (when possible) to obtain whatever legal remedies are available to you, and understand how you can, medically and legally, improve your condition, and making the best of a difficult situation, you have the best prospects for acceptance and happiness in your life.
Ultimately, it is up to each individual to make the journey toward physical and emotional recovery from an injury, with the doctors and therapists they choose to help them get there. You must also speak with a lawyer you can trust, to address any legal remedies available to you, and if you have a claim you can assert, make sure you are represented by a qualified, trustworthy lawyer.
The goal of Acceptance is best achieved when you consult qualified doctors, so you have a clear picture of your medical condition. If you were injured in an accident, it is also important to consult with competent attorneys you trust, so that you have a clear and accurate picture of your legal rights. If you hire a lawyer, you want to make sure that lawyer is qualified and trustworthy.
Your road to medical and legal recovery may be smooth or bumpy, but you need information you can trust so that you can reach that point of accepting the outcome.