Can I Be Compensated for Emotional Damage?

Accidents may not only result in physical injury. They can have long-lasting emotional effects that can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. Anxiety, fear, anger, panic, humiliation, and guilt can last longer than it takes physical wounds to heal and often require therapy to address. The emotional damage can be so severe it can prevent you from working and impact every facet of your life. But in many cases, you can receive compensation for your emotional suffering.

What Is Emotional Damage?

Often referred to as emotional distress or mental anguish in a legal sense, it is an unpleasant emotional reaction caused by an event, such as a car accident, and another individual’s conduct. It can have many symptoms. Some signs of emotional distress include irritability, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, memory issues, anger management problems, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Changes in weight and/or appetite and chronic fatigue are also signs of emotional impacts from an accident.

Triggers of Emotional Trauma

Sudden, violent events such as car accidents and plane crashes are common causes of emotional trauma. Many people are afraid to get back in a vehicle after a crash. Plane crash survivors often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt. People injured at work may be criticized by their employer or feel guilty about pursuing compensation. Loved ones often suffer emotional distress in a wrongful death case, while a dog bite/attack can have long-lasting emotional impacts, especially on children and those who experience severe injury or disfigurement.

But emotional distress can result from a wide range of circumstances. It can arise due to medical malpractice, wrongful arrests, nursing home abuse, and various types of personal injury, including assaults, toxic exposure, and slip and fall accidents.

How to Prove Emotional Damage

To sue for emotional damages, your personal injury attorney will gather all the required information. Civil litigation is typically the route taken. Damages can be awarded by jury verdict or an out-of-court settlement. Here’s what you will need for an emotional distress lawsuit:

  • Proof of Intent/Negligence: The defendant must be proven to have caused intentional infliction of emotional harm or exhibited reckless indifference to how their actions would affect you. To prove negligence, it must be shown they failed to act in good judgement and in a way a reasonable person would have exercised care.
  • Evidence: The more information you have, the easier it is to show you’ve been emotionally affected. Key evidence includes medical records on an accident’s psychological impacts, personal notes (on anxiety, depression, etc.), prescriptions, photo/video evidence, your own testimony, and testimony from doctors, therapists, or psychiatrists.
  • Physical Trauma: Compensation for emotional distress is more likely if there’s evidence of physical trauma. Some states require a plaintiff to have suffered physical harm from the same event that caused emotional damage. Even if not, it can help to have evidence, such as photographs of scarring/disfigurement after an accident, to strengthen your claim.

How Is Emotional Damage Calculated?

The insurance company may calculate damages related to emotional distress using the multiplier method. This considers your current and future financial costs of injuries. The total is then multiplied by a factor of 1.5 to 5; higher multipliers apply when there’s more evidence to prove a connection between an accident and the plaintiff’s emotional state.

A daily compensation rate, or per diem method, may also be used. The per diem rate is based on the severity of your emotional distress. Your lawyer will also calculate the number of days you’re impacted to determine what financial recovery to request. That’s why it’s crucial to build a strong case. Emotional damages vary considerably from one case to another as they are more difficult to measure than economic damages.

Are There Limitations to Sueing for Emotional Damage?

Every case is different, as the damages aren’t as quantifiable. The statute of limitations differs in each state; in California, you can file an emotional distress lawsuit within two years of the incident. Whether you can sue someone for causing stress depends on the level of emotional harm you experience. It may be possible if an employer failed to create a safe, secure workplace or engaged in discrimination or harassment.

A spouse may sue for emotional distress in a case involving abuse, neglect of parental duties, or financial disputes. A landlord’s actions or inaction can be grounds for a lawsuit if it caused you significant enough emotional harm. Sometimes, a victim’s family member can be sued in instances of wrongful death, medical malpractice, false conviction, etc. The types of cases in which emotional damages may apply are far reaching.

Hire a Lawyer for Help with Your Emotional Damage Claim

The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani has the skills and resources to help with your emotional damage or other serious injury claim. We know personal injuries and accidents often result in much more than quantifiable expenses. If you’ve suffered emotional hardship due to another party’s intent or negligence, we’ll evaluate your case for free. To schedule your consultation and learn more, call 888-952-2952 today.

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