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Personal Injury: Emotional Distress


Emotional distress damages can be a major part of recovery in a personal injury case. If you are injured and file a successful lawsuit, you can get financial compensation for pain and suffering in addition to any financial damages such as medical bills and lost wages related to your injuries.

The amount and availability of non-financial damages such as emotional distress damages can vary quite a bit depending upon the nature of your injuries. Even if you don’t file suit for your injuries, you may be able to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company that includes damages for emotional distress.

What are Emotional Distress Damages?

Emotional distress damages in a personal injury case are monetary damages made to compensate you for the psychological impact your injury has had on your daily life. The list of manifestations of emotional distress can be long and can vary quite a bit.

For example, sleep loss, anxiety, and fear can all fall under the umbrella of emotional distress. As well as some cases of depression, crying jags, humiliation and fright. Emotional distress is a very subjective type of damage, and it can vary from person to person. Since there is no hard and fast definition, if you find yourself experiencing psychological symptoms after an accident, you need to note them. Those symptoms may be compensable. What is distressing to someone else may not be distressing to you, and vice versa.

Documenting Emotional Distress

If you have filed a personal injury claim, it is likely that you’re seeking medical treatment. Make sure to tell your doctor about any psychological symptoms you’ve experienced since the accident that caused your injuries. Medically documented emotional distress is a powerful tool in both lawsuits and claims with an insurance company.

It’s also a good idea to keep a daily journal or diary in which you record how you’re feeling in light of the accident and your injuries, and the ways in which your life is affected.

The more evidence of your emotional distress you can assemble, the stronger your claim will be and the higher the likelihood of recovery.

Does the Severity of My Emotional Distress Matter?

Yes, it does. Everyone experiences a degree of emotional distress after an injury. The severity of your emotional distress has a direct impact upon your potential for recovery. For some, they may find it a distraction from being able to work while others may have it so severely that they are having trouble supporting themselves at all. As a result, it is crucial to document any feelings you’re having, through a medical provider if at all possible.

Typically, you’ll need to show that your emotional stress is ongoing, affects the basic way you go about your life, and is directly related to the physical injuries the defendant caused you to suffer. While people with pre-existing psychological conditions are not precluded from collecting emotional distress damages in a personal injury claim, it is far easier to do so if you can definitively show that your emotional distress did not begin until after your accident.

Emotional Distress and Damages

Depending on the severity of your injury, the type of case, and the law of your particular jurisdiction, you may find that emotional distress damages aren’t even an option. For example, in a no-fault state, you will commonly find that all financial damages are subject to statutory caps.

Emotional distress is a very real result of being injured. While there is a lot of skepticism surrounding any claim for emotional distress, it is clear that physical injuries often have serious psychological ramifications. Fear of driving after a car accident, agoraphobia after an assault and depression during a long rehabilitation are all emotional conditions that are real and distressing, and they are also financially compensable as part of your injury claim.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

Personal Injury: Emotional Distress

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh




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