Car accidents can be physically, emotionally, and financially traumatic. If you have sustained severe injuries after a car accident, you may be eligible for compensation for emotional trauma. However, it is crucial to understand that this claim is treated differently than claims for physical injuries.
Here are some of the things to know about suing for emotional distress following a car accident.
You Need to Prove It
The severity of your claim will depend on the type of emotional distress you’re experiencing and you need to know this when suing for emotional distress after a car accident. To have a successful lawsuit against another party following an accident, you’ll need to demonstrate that the other person’s negligence caused or contributed to your injuries.
In the case of psychological harm, this can be difficult to prove without the help of medical experts.
Emotional Distress Is Not the Same as Mental Anguish
Mental anguish and emotional distress are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. Mental anguish is usually defined as the suffering that one experiences due to another person’s actions.
This is generally considered a type of non-physical damage that results from an injury or accident, and it can encompass certain emotions such as anxiety, depression, and mental suffering.
You Have a Right to Recover for your Pain and Suffering
You may think that you shouldn’t be compensated for the emotional distress because you’re not in physical pain after the accident. But the pain of losing your car or your home might be so severe that it could qualify as immediate injury, even if it doesn’t show up until months later.
Not Every Injury is Compensable
Generally speaking, the law allows people to sue over physical injuries caused by another person’s negligence or recklessness. Suing for mental anguish after an accident extends that principle to include the psychological effects of physical injuries — such as fear of driving following a crash.
However, proving mental anguish can be difficult because it’s something that exists only in your mind. That’s why most successful claims for emotional distress require some physical injury, whether it’s broken bones or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms like anxiety and flashbacks.
In some cases, you may be able to sue for purely emotional harm without suffering any physical injuries.
Emotional Distress Occurs in two Forms
There are two types of emotional distress:
Negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED). NIED occurs when another person’s negligence causes injury to your mental health. The other kind is Intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) which happens when someone acts intentionally or recklessly to cause severe emotional trauma.
Emotional Distress Damages are Capped in Some States
The statute of limitations on recovery for emotional distress claims is different from those for other injuries. If you’re injured in an accident and don’t know it immediately, the statute of limitations begins when you learn about it — not when the accident happened or when you first experienced symptoms of pain or suffering (like headaches).
If you’ve been burned by this law and haven’t filed suit yet, don’t wait too long to do so — there are strict time limits on filing lawsuits.
Accidents can take a toll on victims emotionally as well as physically. However, when filing insurance claims and lawsuits, physical injuries are usually the easiest to prove. Emotional distress is another matter. This article should put you a step ahead if you plan to sue for emotional distress following a car accident.