When Is Emotional Distress Considered A Personal Injury?

When Is Emotional Distress Considered A Personal Injury?
When Is Emotional Distress Considered A Personal Injury?

Being involved in an accident can affect you in more ways than just one. In a moment’s notice, your life can be turned upside down by the way of doctor’s visits, financial stress and physical pain from any injuries you suffered. All of these things can cause emotional and mental hardships that affect your day-to-day life.

Emotional distress, although subjective, is a type of damage that you can claim compensation for when an accident occurs, but you will need to prove that this emotional trauma was directly linked to the accident you were involved in. So how can you prove this? Let’s take a look.

What Is Emotional Distress?

Within the realm of personal injury law, emotional distress is defined as any non-physical injury incurred from an accident or occurrence that has an ongoing negative impact on the victim’s life. People who suffer from emotional distress may experience any of the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Overwhelming fear or panic attacks
  • Chronic headaches or body aches
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Extreme fatigue

Of course, these are not the only signs of emotional distress after a traumatic event. If you are choosing to file a claim for emotional distress, it’s advised to seek a diagnosis from a medical professional before proceeding.

When Is Emotional Distress Considered a Personal Injury?

When emotional distress occurs, the law will look at the following when determining whether or not a party can claim damages:

With a bodily injury: When bodily injuries are sustained in an accident, the victim may seek emotional distress compensation due to the stress and anguish that is caused by both the accident itself and the resulting injuries.

Without a bodily injury: Without the presence of a bodily injury, emotional distress can be difficult to prove. The law does provide for emotional distress damages to be collected under certain circumstances, like if an injury happened to a close relative.

There are two causes of action that can inflict emotional distress:

Intentional infliction of emotional distress: This occurs when a party acts recklessly with intent to cause severe emotional distress to the victim.

Negligent infliction of emotional distress: This occurs when a party acts negligently in a way that inflicts emotional damage onto the victim.

Can You Prove That You’ve Suffered Emotional Distress In Court?

In order to prove emotional distress as a personal injury, you first must be able to demonstrate clear cause and effect. Since emotional damage is almost entirely psychological and cannot be easily detectable like physical damages, you may need to have the following pieces of evidence available to prove your emotional losses:

  • An evaluation and proof of ongoing treatment by a mental health professional including the severity of your emotional distress and duration of symptoms
  • Testimonies from experts and loved ones
  • First-hand accounts from the victim like a journal or diary

The monetary value you can recuperate for emotional distress is highly dependent on the particular circumstances of your case. This is why it is extremely important to discuss all your psychological symptoms with a trusted medical professional and loved ones.

Will I Be Able To Receive Compensation for Emotional Distress?

If you are able to successfully prove a direct correlation between your emotional distress and the accident that caused it, you can likely expect to receive some compensation. However, the compensation amounts for emotional distress can vary on a case to case basis. Some factors that can affect the amount you receive for your emotional distress are:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The amount of relevance evidence presented
  • The caliber and expertise of your personal injury attorney

Hiring a trusted personal injury attorney with courtroom experience can help increase your chances of recovering the maximum amount for your physical and non-physical injuries. At Cellino Law, we understand that accidents take an extreme physical and mental toll on their victims. For a free case consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys, call us at 800-555-5555.


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