When most plaintiffs think about damages associated with a personal injury lawsuit, they think of compensation for physical losses – medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc. But, most do not contemplate the possibility of emotional damages.
The law severely limits the amount of damages one can claim when it comes to emotional distress. Over the past few years, however, there has been an increasing acceptance of the emotional pain and suffering one encounters after an injury. Damages for emotional distress are not out of reach for plaintiffs, but it is important that a plaintiff understands what emotional distress entails before assuming their claim has merit.
Circumstances Under Which One Can Claim Emotional Distress
Not all personal injury lawsuits qualify for an emotional distress claim. Instead, damages can only be sought in specific circumstances, such as:
- In a negligence case where a physical injury occurred – and that physical injury also led to some sort of emotional injury.
- In an intentional tort case where there may or may not be accompanying physical injuries, but where an individual intentionally inflicted pain and suffering on the plaintiff.
- In a negligent infliction of emotional distress case; this will require proving that the defendant’s actions were egregious.
Emotional distress is only allowable in cases where a reasonable amount of emotional distress would be seen. For example, a plaintiff suffered from a severe spinal cord injury, and he or she was no longer able to work or even participate in recreational activities. Because of the permanence of this injury, the plaintiff has suffered from extreme depression and emotional distress during multiple surgeries and corrective procedures. This claim would warrant damages because the patient obviously had an injury that resulted in some sort of emotional harm.
Is Emotional Distress a Recoverable Injury?
Serious cases of emotional distress means that a plaintiff suffered from extreme or substantial distress that no person should be expected to endure within reason. The distress itself may comprise of highly unpleasant mental reactions, including by not limited to:
- physical symptoms associated with depression or anxiety
- loss of enjoyment of life
The intensity and duration of such feelings will also play a critical role in determining how much compensation is entitled to the plaintiff for such distress.
Seeking Damages for Emotional Distress
To seek damages, your attorney will need to establish that you suffered an injury – mental or physical – that warrants a claim for compensation. Your attorney may also need access to your mental health records and to call on several expert witnesses to testify on the level of distress that you suffered, how long it occurred (or if you are still suffering from distress) and your recovery process.
Call or Chat Online with Us Today
If you feel you have a claim, contact the attorneys at Hancock Injury Attorneys today. We offer free consultations and can discuss the facts of your personal injury claim. Call us at 813-915-1110 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.