What is Emotional Distress?

Categories: Personal Injury

emotional distress

Washington Personal Injury Attorneys Assisting with Emotional Distress Claims

Emotional distress is when a person causes another person severe psychological suffering. In a personal injur, case you may see a claim for emotional distress, and that distress becomes part of the compensation calculation. However, the amount awarded depends on how much the defendant caused the psychological upset of the plaintiff, and how that emotional distress correlates with the physical injury.

Is a Physical Injury Required?

Yes, most courts want to see a physical injury accompanying a claim for emotional distress. A court will dismiss a case that has emotional distress alone, but some courts have allowed such claims in the past.

What are Emotional Distress Damages?

If your injury case involves emotional and physical damages, then you are seeking compensation for the psychological impact of your injury and how that impact has affected your daily life.

Here are some examples of emotional distress that you could suffer after a catastrophic injury:

  • Sleep loss or severe anxiety
  • Night terrors
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Fright
  • Humiliation
  • Uncontrollable crying

Emotional distress is highly subjective. Everyone handles physical pain, disfigurement, and injury recovery differently. Therefore, one person could have a serious injury and suffer no depression, while another could be emotionally devastated.

If you are experiencing symptoms of mental anguish, it is imperative you seek professional help. Then, consider speaking with an attorney to see if your emotional distress can be included in your injury claim.

Documenting Emotional Distress is Critical

Emotional distress is one of those areas of bodily injury claims where you will find heavy opposition from the other side. Therefore, you must do what you can to document the emotional distress, how it affects your life, and the extent of that suffering. Furthermore, you must seek medical attention for it. Claiming emotional distress without a professional’s analysis will not go far in civil court.

  • Identify the Intensity – Your emotional distress and mental anguish must be measured in intensity. Show how the emotional distress affects your daily life. Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you able to return to work? Do you have post-traumatic stress disorder?
  • Discuss the Duration – You and your treating physician must discuss the duration of your emotional distress. Consider how long the symptoms have affected you, what you have done regarding treatment, and the prognosis.
  • Bodily Harm Related – Courts require that you have a bodily injury in addition to the emotional distress you are claiming. Therefore, you must prove that a bodily injury exists, the severity of that injury, and how it has impacted your emotional and physical well-being. Also document the physical injuries that stem from your emotional distress, including headaches, ulcers, acid reflux, and similar conditions.
  • Expected Prognosis – Your psychiatrist or treating professional must testify as to how they expect you to recover from your emotional trauma. Some professionals may need to prescribe medications to help you cope; they may estimate that you need several months of therapy. Regardless, their prognosis must be documented.

Seeking Compensation for Emotional Trauma

Accidents, including vehicle accidents and slip and fall accidents, are emotionally traumatizing. Often the physical injuries can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and restlessness. If you have a permanent disability because of your accident, it is only natural to suffer emotional distress as well.

You are entitled to compensation for your physical and emotional injuries. To explore those options, speak with an injury advocate from Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC. You can reach a member of our injury team toll-free at 800-925-1875 or schedule your free consultation online.

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Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.