Is Emotional Distress Considered a Personal Injury?
In a personal injury case, you have various areas you can seek compensation for and they go well beyond the scope of just your physical injuries. One of those areas you may seek compensation for as well includes emotional and mental distress. After all, serious injuries can result in long-term emotional trauma that haunts a victim long after their physical injuries have healed.
Often emotional distress damages are a massive component in a personal injury claim, and they can result in a significant portion of a victim’s compensation amount received. When you file an injury lawsuit, you request compensation for your physical damages, but your attorney will often include emotional damages as part of your pain and suffering, too.
These are on top of the economic damages, which include medical costs, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and so forth.
Your emotional distress damages will vary, and there is no set calculation. Instead, they are tailored to the type of injury, the accident that led to those injuries, and how it will affect you the rest of your life.
Understanding Emotional Distress and When It Applies
Emotional distress refers to the psychological effect of your injury and accident. It can include how it impacts your daily life, and all of the psychological issues that you may experience immediately after and long-term.
Some types of emotional distress that victims can receive compensation for include:
- Eating disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Everyone reacts differently to accidents, especially emotionally. Therefore, while one person may not have any long-term emotional side effects, another could have long-term psychological trauma. Because they are so subjective, they are also one of the harder damages to prove in court. However, when you have medical experts and evidence to prove that your distress is real, it becomes easier to prove your case.
How Do You Document and Prove Emotional Distress?
When you are considering filing an injury claim, you are most likely already getting medical treatment for your physical and emotional injuries. While being treated, you should always let your physician know about any psychological symptoms you experience, how frequent they are, and see if they recommend any specific treatments for them. You may be referred to a therapist for further treatment.
While you are receiving treatment, you should also keep a journal about your physical, mental and emotional well-being each day as you recover. Write down how you feel, your symptoms, and how they impact your life. For example, if you are suffering from extreme fear of vehicles, you might be unable to go to the doctor one day because you are terrified you’ll get into another accident. You may have to isolate yourself at home, which impacts your employment, relationships, and quality of life.
How the Severity of Your Emotional Distress Plays a Role in Your Compensation
The more severe the emotional distress, the more likely it is that it will pay out more compensation. However, what is severe to some, might not be considered “severe” to the court.
To help show how it affects you, you need to keep documentation showing it and have medical proof that you are, in fact, suffering from emotional distress. You need to show that it is ongoing, and it is severe enough to impact your life. You also need to show that the emotional distress you suffer directly correlates with the physical injury. If you cannot prove that the physical injury or accident causing the injury led to that emotional distress, it would be harder to get compensation.
For example, you might have suffered from depression already, but now you are claiming that the accident increased your depression. Your medical professional treating you for depression would need to show the court how the incident caused an increase, how severe it has become since the accident, and the treatment you have received.
You cannot recover compensation for emotional distress that is not directly related to the incident.
How Much Compensation Can You Get for Emotional Distress?
The amount of compensation you can receive for emotional distress varies. Also, the compensation on this type of damage will depend on the amount of compensation you receive in full for your injuries. Factors that can influence your compensation include:
The amount of evidence you have. How much evidence do you have showing the severity of your emotional distress, the duration, and that it is tied directly to the incident that led to your physical injuries? The more evidence, such as medical records and a medical professional ready to testify, will help increase the compensation you can receive. When you have limited evidence or your records are too questionable, it can make it hard to get fair compensation for your emotional suffering.
How severe were the injuries and how long will they last? Also, the severity of your physical injuries does play a role in the emotional damages you can receive. A jury and judge are more likely to give higher emotional damages to a client that has a long-term injury, or someone who suffers from a catastrophic accident rather than someone who recovers quickly and fully from their injuries.
Your legal representation and how quickly you retain it. The caliber of the attorney representing your case, presenting the facts to the insurance company and the jury, all play a role in your compensation. Also, the faster you hire an attorney, the easier it will be to help tie a clear correlation between your injuries and your emotional suffering.
Injured in a Serious Accident? Contact an Attorney Now
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an accident, contact an experienced attorney that can help you not only get compensation for your emotional suffering, but your physical injuries and financial losses, too. The attorneys at the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. can assist you with your case.
Call us now for a free consultation at 954-677-0155 or request more information online. Our team is here to help you get the compensation you deserve, and you do not pay our attorneys unless we succeed.