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A Quick Guide to Collecting Emotional Distress Damages

Over the years, we’ve come to realize more than ever that some injuries exist below the surface, and are not immediately perceived. A large percentage of incidents also cause victims to suffer psychological and emotional distress in addition to painful physical injuries, and these often remain long after the body has healed. Unfortunately, most accident victims are unaware of their right to potentially collect emotional distress damages when filing a suit. 

Before we discuss these damages in detail, it’s worth mentioning that in order to recover any compensation at all, it is in your best interest to retain a qualified personal injury attorney, as claimants recoup over three times as much compensation as they would on their own, on average. At Van Law Firm, our attorneys have settled numerous claims involving emotional distress damages–here are some more in-depth details about the process. 

Including Emotional Distress Damages Along With Physical Injuries 

Emotional distress damages, for the most part, are exactly what they sound like: additional compensation for psychological and emotional distress as a result of an accident. In most cases, injured plaintiffs will request these damages on the basis that they are directly related to physical injuries sustained in the accident in question. 

To give some examples, perhaps a trade worker suffers a serious back injury and is unable to work for months, which greatly increases his stress and anxiety for the future; or, maybe a widow lost her spouse because of a defective medical device and is suffering from loss of companionship; a young person who suffers permanent disabilities will surely feel the long-lasting effects of depression. 

These damages may arise whenever the plaintiff experiences:

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety
  • Shame
  • Fear
  • Anger/ Rage
  • Embarrassment 
  • Irritability 

Naturally, emotions and feelings can be pretty subjective, and so there are no set criteria for evaluating and awarding these damages. For the most part, they are heavily reliant on documentation and evidence, especially testimony. If your physicians, family members, or co-workers can demonstrate how much of an effect an accident has had on your mental and emotional health, the more likely it is that the court will agree. 

Recovering Emotional Distress Damages Without Physical Injuries 

Different states have different policies when it comes to allowing claimants to sue for emotional distress absent of physical injuries. If your state does not, then you will have to prove physical harm before moving forward, however, in other states (Texas and California being two notable examples), you may sue for emotional distress if it was intentionally or negligently inflicted. 

Intentionally Inflicted Emotional Distress

These type of suits are known as IIED claims, and in order to be successful you must prove the following: 

  • The defendant’s behavior was outrageous 
  • This behavior was specifically meant to cause emotional harm or was committed with no regard as to how it would affect others 
  • As the plaintiff, you suffered emotional distress as defined above 
  • The defendant’s behavior was a primary factor in causing your distress 

IIED claims can arise from numerous scenarios–one of the most common examples is when a practical joke goes too far, for example, if your friends tricked you into thinning your family died in an accident. They also frequently happen when someone of authority goes too far, such as a principal at a school or a police officer. 

Negligently Inflicted Emotional Distress

These claims are similar to IIEDs, however with one key difference: in an NIED claim, the defendant behaved negligently instead of intentionally or recklessly. These may sometimes be referred to as bystander claims, as most of the plaintiffs filing these suits were a bystander or witness to a traumatic event. 

Essentially, by filing an NIED claim, you are saying that you suffered distress after witnessing a traumatic event. Now, NIEDs are somewhat controversial in that states vary widely on how these claims are applied, and some do not recognize them altogether. For the states that do, however, common examples include plaintiffs watching their loved ones die after an accident, such as a surviving passenger of a car crash or a parent whose child is injured outside of their view. 

Contact the Legal Representation Needed to Fight on Your Behalf 

The world of emotional distress damages can be extremely frustrating and confusing, as it can feel like your voice is being ignored. However, when you entrust your case to the experienced personal injury team from Van Law Firm, you can rest assured knowing that you have the best lawyers in the country by your side. 

We are always available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with our location nearest you today. With over 500 5-star reviews, we’ve most likely settled your exact case multiple times over. Don’t wait–join the VLF family now.