Calculating Emotional Distress in Your Injury Claim
Accidents that result in substantial injury may cause a great deal of emotional distress. Emotional distress can change peoples' lives in unexpected ways, including causing increased symptoms of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After a severe accident, you may have a right to claim compensation for your damages, including for emotional distress.
Can You Include Compensation for Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Claim?
In some cases, personal injury claims include emotional distress. Insurance companies and attorneys acknowledge that you can suffer a great deal of emotional distress from an accident. In addition, emotional distress may lead to its own complications, which you can include as part of an injury claim.
Talk to your attorney about your distress and its effect on your life. Some people may suffer more emotional distress than others or may suffer additional complications despite having similar injuries. You may experience things like:
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
In many cases, serious injuries cause you to miss out on activities you usually enjoy. Sometimes, they can also make connecting with friends and loved ones more difficult. As a result, you may lose much of your overall enjoyment of life. Your outlook may feel bleak, and you may have difficulty finding activities that bring joy to your life.
Serious injuries can change how you interact with friends and loved ones, sometimes permanently. Many people who suffer significant injuries, especially those leading to permanent disability, have difficulty reconnecting with friends and relatives. Relationships may fall away, especially those that rely on a shared activity.
Can You File an Injury Claim If You Only Suffer Emotional Distress?
Yes, even if you avoid major physical injury in an accident, you can suffer immense emotional distress. If you only suffer emotional distress because of a serious incident, filing an injury claim is more difficult. However, if you receive a diagnosis of a mental health disorder stemming from the incident, you can file an injury claim. Dangerous events can prove extremely traumatic. Even if you did not suffer physical injury, you may deserve compensation for your losses.
Many people suffer from increased anxiety following a severe and dangerous incident. Anxiety can cause you to feel an ongoing sense of dread or worry that prevents you from engaging in activities you once enjoyed. Sometimes, anxiety may stop you from passing the accident site or participating in the activity that led to the incident. Anxiety may require medication or ongoing therapy, particularly if you suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder or panic attacks after your accident.
After the immense stress of a severe incident, some people may suffer from ongoing depression. Depression can make it difficult to function normally after an incident. Some patients with depression find it hard to participate in daily life activities, including sleeping, eating, or getting exercise. Others struggle to take an interest in things that once brought them joy. Dealing with depression can mean a long road to recovery and many changes in the victim’s life in the meantime.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, often known as PTSD, typically occurs after witnessing or suffering a terrifying event. You do not necessarily have to go through the incident yourself to suffer from PTSD. While some people may temporarily struggle to adjust to the challenges they face after an incident, others may fight for years to deal with the impact of PTSD.
PTSD symptoms can cause panic attacks, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, or trouble engaging in any activity even remotely related to the accident. Patients with PTSD may need intensive, ongoing treatment.
When you have a qualified medical diagnosis related to your injury, even if you have a psychiatric diagnosis instead of a physical one, working with a personal injury lawyer makes it easier to break down your losses.
What Damages Include Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress factors into legal damages in several ways.
Special damages include the tangible financial losses you face as a direct result of your accident, including your emotional distress. If you have a diagnosis of emotional trauma, including depression, anxiety, or PTSD, after an accident, you may have specific expenses that go along with it.
Mental Health Treatment Costs
Often, psychological or psychiatric treatment requires ongoing medical costs. Severe trauma may require as much therapy and intensive treatment as physical injuries. Many patients with depression, anxiety, or PTSD require regular appointments with a psychologist or psychiatrist. Severe episodes may require further treatment.
In addition, if you take medication to treat the condition the accident caused, you may have the right to include the cost of those medications as part of your injury claim.
Finally, some psychological conditions require short-term or long-term hospitalization. If you go to the hospital because of your diagnosis or condition, you may have immense mental health costs associated with your treatment. Talk to your lawyer about the medical treatment for your psychological conditions and emotional distress after your accident.
Lost Income Due to Your Diagnosis
A significant psychological injury can make working as difficult as a physical injury. Many patients struggle, for example, to find the energy to go to work when facing immense depression. Patients with anxiety may struggle to deal with customers, accept feedback, or keep up with deadlines. Patients with PTSD may need time off work to help reduce the risk of flashbacks and other dangerous symptoms.
If you miss work because of your diagnosed injury—whether your doctor requires you to remain out of work to focus on your mental health or your employer does not allow you to return to work until you recover—you may include income losses in your claim. Talk to your lawyer about calculating your lost wages and your resulting compensation.
Some patients with significant psychiatric diagnoses or immense PTSD may permanently or semi-permanently lose the ability to work in their former fields due to the incident. For example, some people may need to pursue employment in a less-stressful field, while others may need to move into a field that has no relationship to the thing that caused their accident.
A construction worker, for example, might develop a crippling fear of heights after safety equipment intended to prevent a fall failed, or a patient who drives for a living might suffer PTSD so that getting behind the wheel becomes impossible.
If you lose the ability to work in your preferred field because of your accident, talk to your lawyer about your losses and the potential to claim lost earning potential.
Many personal injury claims and claims for compensation for financial losses related to a serious accident include claims for less tangible losses, including emotional distress. Indeed, many claims for general damages include compensation for “pain and suffering,” The “suffering” part of that claim may offer you the opportunity to claim compensation for the emotional distress you face following your accident.
Talk to your lawyer about your emotional distress and how it impacts you. A lawyer can help give you a better idea of the severity of your losses and how to include them as part of your injury claim.
How to Claim Emotional Distress in Your Injury Claim:
When you suffer severe injuries, you may deserve compensation for all your losses, including emotional challenges. However, emotional distress may not have a direct financial correlation, particularly if you do not have a specific diagnosis related to the emotional challenges you experience after the accident.
Talk to a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can help you closely review who caused your accident and your losses, which may significantly impact the compensation you can request for pain and suffering. In general, a lawyer will ask several key questions to discover how much compensation you can claim for your emotional distress after an incident caused by another party’s negligence.
1. What medical costs did you have related to emotional distress after your accident?
Did you need to pursue therapy due to your emotional distress? Have you faced significant medical costs, including hospitalization or medication costs? Talk to your lawyer about the direct medical costs you face due to your accident and your diagnosis.
2. What diagnoses did you receive related to your mental health after the accident?
If you plan to file a claim for emotional distress alone, your diagnosis will serve as the vital backbone of your emotional distress claim. If you have physical injuries and emotional challenges, your psychiatric diagnoses add to the compensation you may recover and make it easier to build your claim.
3. How have your diagnoses limited you?
Often, psychiatric conditions lead to substantial limitations in many areas of your life.
- Make it hard for you to work
- Make it difficult for you to engage in activities you once enjoyed
- Prevent you from taking care of yourself
- Slow you down or zap your energy
Talk to your lawyer about the specific impacts of your conditions and the challenges you face as you try to resume everyday life after your accident.
4. How have your conditions impacted your relationships with others?
Psychiatric challenges can substantially affect your relationships with others, including your spouse and children. Your spouse may feel the lack of your presence or find it more difficult to interact with you. You may not feel that you can give your children your full self. Friendships may fall away. Talk to your lawyer about the challenges you face in your relationships because of your injury.
5. What progress have you made in treatment?
In some cases, medication and regular therapy can help many patients recover from traumatic events and make it easier for them to deal with their emotional challenges, which may decrease their symptoms over time. Other patients, however, struggle much longer to see improvement. If you have a longer road to recovery ahead, you deserve additional compensation for your losses.
Contact a Lawyer for Help with Your Emotional Distress Claim
If your injuries following an accident include emotional distress, working with a lawyer will help you recover compensation for your damages. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you clearly show the emotional challenges you face after your accident and how much compensation you deserve. Contact a personal injury lawyer near you as soon as possible to learn more.