8 December, 2023
After someone else causes you injuries, their insurance should cover all your injury-related losses. This not only includes financial losses like medical bills and lost income, but also non-economic losses. While these are intangible losses with no automatic financial value, they are still very real effects of injuries. One common non-economic loss from accidents is emotional distress.
If you suffered injuries in an accident, discuss compensation for all your losses – including emotional distress – with a trusted personal injury law firm.
Emotional distress, often referred to as “pain and suffering,” is a significant aspect of personal injury claims. While physical injuries are more tangible and visible, the emotional toll resulting from an accident can be equally debilitating.
Emotional distress encompasses a broad range of emotional and psychological symptoms experienced by an individual as a result of a traumatic event or wrongful conduct. This can include feelings of anxiety, depression, fear, shock, humiliation, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unlike physical injuries, emotional distress is not readily visible, making it a challenging aspect of personal injury claims.
General distress: General emotional distress refers to the overall emotional suffering experienced by the injured party. It may include feelings of anguish, sorrow, or mental anguish resulting from the incident.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED): NIED occurs when an individual suffers emotional distress as a direct result of another party’s negligent actions. To pursue NIED, the plaintiff typically needs to show that they were in the “zone of danger” and faced a risk of physical harm.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED): IIED claims arise when the defendant intentionally engages in extreme and outrageous conduct that causes severe emotional distress to the plaintiff. This often involves conduct beyond what is considered acceptable in society.
Loss of Consortium: While not emotional distress experienced directly by the injured party, loss of consortium claims involve the emotional harm suffered by a spouse or family member due to the injuries inflicted on the injured party.
Proving emotional distress in personal injury cases can be challenging due to its subjective nature. However, several factors contribute to establishing a valid claim:
Compensation for emotional distress is often awarded as part of general damages in a personal injury settlement or judgment. General damages encompass non-economic losses and can include both the tangible and intangible consequences of the injury. The compensation aims to provide solace for the pain and suffering endured by the injured party.
You cannot expect to receive compensation for your emotional distress automatically. Instead, you must demand this type of compensation and prove the nature of your losses. Insurance companies regularly underestimate the value of emotional distress to minimize claim payments. However, an experienced personal injury attorney can calculate the true value of your non-economic damages to help you get the best result possible.
When an individual experiences emotional distress as a result of an injury, determining the appropriate compensation can be challenging. Unlike tangible losses, emotional distress is subjective and can manifest in various ways. This guide explores the factors involved in calculating emotional distress damages after an injury, providing insights into the legal considerations, methods, and challenges associated with quantifying these non-economic losses.
Emotional distress damages fall under the broader category of non-economic damages, often referred to as “pain and suffering.” To seek compensation for emotional distress, the injured party must establish that the distress is a direct result of the defendant’s actions or negligence. The legal system recognizes the significant impact emotional suffering can have on an individual’s life, and compensation aims to address these intangible harms.
Severity of emotional distress: The extent and severity of emotional distress play a crucial role in calculating damages. Courts consider the intensity and duration of the emotional suffering when determining the appropriate compensation.
Medical evidence: Professional documentation from mental health experts, such as therapists or psychologists, can provide objective evidence of the emotional distress. This may include diagnoses, treatment plans, and expert testimony supporting the plaintiff’s claims.
Witness testimony: Testimony from witnesses who observed the plaintiff’s emotional state before and after the injury can strengthen the case. Friends, family members, or colleagues who can attest to changes in behavior or demeanor can provide valuable perspectives.
Causation: Establishing a clear causal link between the defendant’s actions and the plaintiff’s emotional distress is essential. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the emotional suffering directly resulted from the defendant’s conduct.
Impact on your daily life: The impact of emotional distress on the plaintiff’s daily life, relationships, and overall well-being is considered. This includes disruptions in sleep, mood changes, anxiety, and other relevant factors.
The multiplier method involves assigning a numerical value (multiplier) to the economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost wages) and using that multiplier to calculate non-economic damages. The multiplier is typically determined based on the severity of the emotional distress.
The per diem method assigns a daily rate to the emotional distress suffered by the plaintiff. This daily rate is then multiplied by the number of days the plaintiff experienced emotional distress, providing a total for non-economic damages.
Attorneys may use past cases with similar emotional distress claims as benchmarks for calculating damages. This involves comparing the plaintiff’s situation to comparable cases and determining a fair compensation amount based on those precedents.
Due to the subjective nature of emotional distress, quantifying these damages can be challenging. Different individuals may respond differently to similar circumstances, making it challenging to establish a standard measure.
The perception of emotional distress varies among jurors, and their personal experiences may influence their assessment of damages. This can lead to inconsistencies in awards for similar emotional distress claims.
Cultural and social factors can impact how emotional distress is perceived. Attitudes towards mental health, expressions of emotion, and societal norms may influence how damages are assessed.
Some jurisdictions impose statutory limits on non-economic damages, including emotional distress. Plaintiffs may face challenges if their calculated damages exceed these limitations.
While there are challenges when seeking compensation for emotional distress, you can overcome them with the right legal representation. Never accept the insurance company’s assessment of your losses. Instead, speak with a lawyer who is on your side.
Emotional distress is a legitimate and often overlooked aspect of personal injury cases. Recognizing the profound impact that emotional suffering can have on an individual’s life, the legal system allows for compensation to address these intangible harms. Whether resulting from negligence or intentional misconduct, seeking professional guidance and building a comprehensive case is essential for individuals pursuing emotional distress claims.
By understanding the nuances of emotional distress in personal injury cases, both plaintiffs and legal professionals can work towards achieving fair and just compensation for the full extent of the harm endured. While money can never take away the distress you felt or continue to experience, it can give you additional financial support to ease your stress and provide a sense of justice for the emotional toll of your injuries.
Calculating emotional distress damages after an injury involves a nuanced evaluation of various factors, legal considerations, and challenges. The severity of the emotional distress, supporting evidence, and the chosen calculation method all contribute to the determination of fair compensation.
At The Barnes Firm, our personal injury lawyers play a crucial role in advocating for our clients and presenting a compelling case that accurately reflects the impact of their emotional suffering. We can assist you following a distressing and costly injury, as well.
Case evaluations are always free, so please contact our firm today at (800) 800-0000 to learn more about your legal rights and options following a preventable injury.
“As President of The Barnes Firm, I have dedicated my career to achieving justice in hundreds of cases for the victims of injuries caused through the fault of others. Additionally, I have been honored to have been elected Best Lawyer and a Super Lawyer”
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