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Are you legally allowed to sue for emotional distress after a car accident?

4th February 2021 Print

If you have been involved in a serious car accident, it could be an extremely stressful and traumatic experience. If you are suffering from emotional distress owing to your accident, you have every right to sue the at-fault party for your suffering. Your ability to receive compensation would typically depend on your attorney’s ability to demonstrate the impact of the accident on your mental or emotional health. Since the attorney’s ability to construct a strong argument is crucial it is imperative to hire a seasoned car accident attorney.

Emotional Distress: A type of ‘Pain and Suffering’ Damage

Usually after a crash, the victims sue the at-fault party for their economic losses such as medical bills, salary loss, reduced earning capacity and non-economic damages like pain and suffering. These non-economic damages would include:

- Emotional distress

- Loss of consortium or companionship

- Disfigurement

- Physical injuries

- Emotional injuries

Emotional distress means a strong unpleasant emotional reaction caused by someone else’s actions. You can seek damages for such emotional distress. For example, if your accident has impacted your confidence and you fear getting behind the wheel or even traveling as a passenger with someone else you could be suffering from emotional distress. You may also experience panic attacks, guilt, depression, or have suicidal thoughts that make it difficult for you to get through your everyday life. If you have been suffering from any of these forms of distress, contact your doctor immediately and discuss your symptoms with them.

Proving Your Emotional Distress

When your car accident attorney is constructing your legal claim, they should determine if your emotional distress was inflicted intentionally, or was due to the negligence of the at-fault driver. You can be eligible to receive a significant amount of added compensation if your emotional distress is proved. 

A strong case of emotional distress would include:

- Physical effects on your health such as fatigue, frequent headaches, and cold sores, digestive upsets

- Psychological effects such as anxiety, PTSD, stress, and depression

- Medical diagnosis from a professional mental health practitioner stating details about your medical condition, therapy provided, and medicines prescribed

- Severe case of distress that is interfering with your family care, work, school or other daily activities

- Distress and unpleasant emotional reaction lasting for a prolonged period of time

In addition to a mental health professional’s diagnosis, copies of your medical reports, diary of your daily symptoms, published medical research, and expert testimony can prove useful for your case. Your family may also be eligible to file for emotional distress damages even if they were not directly harmed in the accident. 

How Can A Good Car Accident Attorney Assist You?

As emotional distress is non-monetary damage it is difficult to prove or put a monetary value to it. A knowledgeable and experienced car accident lawyer can strive relentlessly and bring necessary resources to the table to ensure that you have a solid emotional distress claim and you receive maximum compensation for your expenses, pain, and suffering that you rightfully deserve. The car accident lawyers at Douglas and London also have some additional information on what circumstances you can legally file a claim for on their website.