Learn what emotional distress is and how it is proven and valued in a personal injury case

What is Emotional Distress?

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation for many different types of damages, including pain and suffering. Pain and suffering includes both the physical pain of your injuries and the mental anguish or emotional distress you may experience as a result of the trauma of your accident and/or the experience of living with physical pain and suffering during a prolonged recovery period.

While most injured individuals will experience some type of emotional distress, the specific symptoms and their severity will vary from case to case. Some of the most common symptoms of emotional distress include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Frustration
  • Insomnia
  • Bitterness
  • Loss of consortium (loss of the benefits of family relationships)

Proving Emotional Distress

When it comes to your personal injury claim, you cannot just say you have experienced emotional distress and expect the insurance adjuster or jury to automatically award appropriate damages. You need to present evidence supporting your claim. This will include evidence showing that your emotional distress exists, as well as evidence demonstrating its severity or scope.

Common types of evidence that may be used to support a claim for emotional distress in a personal injury case include:

Mental Health Narratives: If you are suffering from emotional distress, it can help to talk about it to a professional such as a licensed counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. If you do, that person can write a mental health narrative including their professional evaluation of your emotional and mental state. Even your family physician can do this if you discuss your emotional well-being with them.

Letters from Witnesses: If your emotional distress has manifested itself in ways that others would notice—such as depression, fatigue, crying jags, etc.—you can have those individuals write letters describing their observations. You can certainly have friends and family write letters, but opinions from more objective individuals like an employer, a co-worker, or a pastor may carry more weight.

Journals: It is a very good idea to keep a personal injury journal during your recovery. You should include details about your physical symptoms as well as your day to day thoughts and feelings. This journal can then become a detailed record of your changing symptoms of emotional distress.

Prescriptions: If you are taking prescription medications for symptoms of emotional distress such as depression, anxiety, or insomnia, you should make a list of those medications along with your dosages.

Valuing Emotional Distress Damages

Mental and emotional health is priceless. But for the purposes of a personal injury claim, we do have to put a dollar amount on your emotional distress. This is typically done by totaling up the value of your medical bills and lost wages and multiplying by a factor of 1 to 5, depending on how severe you feel your emotional distress is.

Your personal injury attorney can help you with this process by providing information about the amount of compensation for emotional distress that has been won in cases similar to yours. Together you can arrive at a range of compensation you feel is appropriate and then work to have this amount included in the settlement offer you may receive from the insurance company or the jury award you may win in court.

To learn more about the potential value of emotional distress damages in your specific case, call The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 now.