The Effects of Emotional Distress on Personal Injury Claims

The Effects of Emotional Distress on Personal Injury Claims

You suffered injuries in a car accident that was not your fault. Your physical wounds eventually healed, but you still feel anxious, depressed, and unable to enjoy life. These emotional effects may entitle you to additional compensation. This article explains how emotional distress relates to personal injury claims. It analyzes relevant case law and provides guidance on proving emotional distress damages. You will learn what evidence strengthens an emotional distress claim and how to value the claim. The goal is to help you maximize recovery for both physical injuries and related emotional harm. Read on to better understand the effects of emotional distress on personal injury claims.

Understanding Emotional Distress in Personal Injury Claims

Physical and Psychological Impacts

Personal injury claims often involve compensation for emotional distress in addition to physical injuries. Emotional distress refers to the psychological impacts resulting from an accident, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and loss of enjoyment of life. These psychological damages can be just as debilitating as physical injuries.

Difficulty of Quantifying Damages

While physical injuries can often be quantified through medical bills, diagnostics, and prognoses, emotional distress is more challenging to calculate. There are no standard metrics to determine compensation amounts for conditions like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. As a result, claimants must provide evidence from mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists, to validate emotional distress claims.

Impact of Emotional Distress on Settlements and Verdicts

Proving emotional distress can increase the settlement or verdict amount in a personal injury claim. However, some critics argue that emotional distress claims are more prone to abuse and exaggeration. As with any claim, transparency and substantive evidence are required to demonstrate the legitimacy and severity of the emotional damages. When proven, compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering can make up a significant portion of the total settlement or verdict amount.

Considerations for Claimants and Insurers

For claimants, it is important to openly discuss emotional impacts with doctors and mental health professionals to properly document distress. For insurers, verifying emotional distress claims through medical evidence and professional opinions is key to determining appropriate compensation. Evaluating the severity and prognosis of conditions like PTSD or depression can help insurers calculate fair settlement offers for emotional distress. Overall, a balanced and evidence-based approach benefits both sides.

Proving Emotional Distress Damages in Court

Medical Records

To prove emotional distress in court and receive compensation, you will need medical records from a doctor or therapist diagnosing you with a psychological condition like depression or PTSD as a result of your injury. Diagnoses and treatment records, especially over an extended period of time, help establish the severity and duration of your emotional distress.

Witness Statements

Written statements from close family and friends describing changes in your behavior and mood can serve as evidence of emotional suffering. Witnesses who testify in court about your condition before and after the incident can be even more persuasive for the jury. Their firsthand accounts of how your injury has impacted your mental health and day-to-day life can demonstrate the pain and anguish you have endured.

Expert Testimony

Expert witnesses like psychologists are often called upon to evaluate your mental state and explain to the court how your symptoms correspond to a diagnosis of emotional distress. Their clinical evaluations, reports, and testimony carry significant weight due to their expertise. They can also help determine if your distress exceeds normal reactions, as severe distress is required to justify compensation.

While emotional distress can be difficult to substantiate, following the guidance of your doctor and legal counsel can help build a strong case. By combining medical records, witness statements, and expert opinions, you have the best chance of obtaining damages for your psychological injury so you can move forward with your recovery.

Types of Emotional Distress Damages Available

Pain and suffering

This refers to the emotional anguish and discomfort experienced due to the accident and injuries. Pain and suffering damages compensate the plaintiff for fright, nervousness, grief, worry, and anxiety. The severity and duration of the injuries along with the plaintiff’s mental state are considered while determining pain and suffering damages.

Loss of enjoyment of life

When injuries from an accident limit one’s ability to participate in and enjoy life’s activities, loss of enjoyment of life damages may be awarded. The plaintiff’s age, health, interests and hobbies prior to the accident are evaluated to determine how much the ability to enjoy life has been impacted. Damages for loss of enjoyment of life aim to make up for lost experiences and opportunities.

Loss of companionship

For severe injuries or death of a loved one due to another’s negligence, the plaintiff may be awarded damages for loss of companionship. The closeness of the relationship and how much the plaintiff relied on the loved one are taken into account. Loss of companionship damages attempt to compensate for the loss of comfort, society and fellowship.

PTSD and other psychological disorders

If the plaintiff suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression or other psychological conditions as a result of the accident and injuries, damages may be awarded for treatment of these disorders. Diagnosis and prognosis by mental health professionals along with the anticipated costs of ongoing treatment are considered for these damages. Psychological damages aim to provide for the plaintiff’s mental health needs stemming from the trauma.

The types of emotional distress damages aim to make the plaintiff whole again in the wake of an accident. While monetary damages cannot undo the trauma, they can help pay for treatment, make up for lost enjoyment and provide security for the future. The specific damages awarded depend on the losses and needs demonstrated by the plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s negligence.

Getting Help From a Texas Car Accident Lawyer for Your Emotional Distress Claim

Gathering Evidence

To have a strong case for compensation due to emotional distress from a car accident, you will need evidence from professionals to support your claim. Speaking with a therapist or counselor can help assess the severity and impact of your emotional injuries. Medical records, therapy notes, and a statement from your mental health professional can serve as evidence for your emotional distress.

Valuing Your Claim

Emotional distress claims can be challenging to value as the injuries are not physically visible. However, the pain and suffering you experience are real. An experienced car accident lawyer can help determine a fair settlement value for your claim based on the severity and duration of your symptoms, time off work, medical bills, and other factors. They will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to recover compensation for your emotional distress.

Filing a Lawsuit

If the insurance company denies your claim or offers an unfair settlement, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation. Your lawyer can handle the litigation process, filing documents with the court, deposing witnesses, and representing you at trial. Litigation can be a lengthy process, so having legal counsel by your side is critical.

Suffering emotional distress from a traumatic event like a car accident can have a significant impact on your life. However, by working with a skilled car accident lawyer in Texas, you have the best chance of recovering compensation for your injuries. They can walk you through each step of the process, handling communication with insurance companies and legal matters so you can focus on your recovery. With strong evidence and the right representation, you can achieve justice and financial security.

FAQ: Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney for My Emotional Distress Claim?

While you are not required to hire an attorney to pursue an emotional distress claim, it is highly advisable to do so. Personal injury attorneys have experience negotiating with insurance companies and understand how to properly value emotional distress claims. They can advise you on the viability of your claim and determine an appropriate settlement amount. Without proper legal counsel, you risk accepting a settlement that does not adequately compensate you for your suffering.

Emotional Distress Claims Can Be Complex

Emotional distress claims involve subjective injuries that may be difficult to quantify. Insurance companies often dispute or undervalue these claims. An experienced attorney knows how to gather evidence to support your claim, such as medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony. They understand the complex legal standards for emotional distress in your state and can build a persuasive case.

You May Be Entitled to Additional Compensation

Beyond compensation for your emotional distress, you may be entitled to other damages, such as lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. An attorney can determine all compensable damages in your case and fight to recover the maximum amount you deserve under the law. Without proper representation, you may fail to recover all applicable damages.

Contingency Fee Arrangements Are Common

Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis for emotional distress claims, meaning you pay no upfront legal fees. The attorney is only paid if you recover compensation. Their fee is a percentage of your total settlement. This arrangement means there is no financial risk to hire an attorney. They are motivated to maximize your settlement to increase their own fee.

While hiring an attorney is not strictly required, doing so for an emotional distress claim is highly advisable. An experienced personal injury attorney can determine if you have a viable claim, gather evidence to support it, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and work to recover all damages you are owed under the law. With the right legal counsel, you stand the best chance of being fully compensated for your suffering.


You have seen how emotional distress can greatly impact the outcome of a personal injury case. The evidence needed to prove it requires medical records and testimony, so be sure to document your emotional state from the start. Though money cannot erase your suffering, it can provide closure and a means to move forward. Let your attorney from lawyers at Fletcher Law guide you on reasonable compensation. With the right approach, justice can be served. Now go forth with greater understanding, using it to make the best decisions for your circumstances. You have the power to take control despite adversity. Your resilience will see you through to a brighter day.