If you've been involved in an accident, you may have heard the term "emotional distress" come up in conversations with your friends, colleagues, or personal injury lawyer. But what exactly does emotional distress mean, and how does it relate to your case?
Emotional distress refers to the psychological impact of an injury or traumatic event. It can manifest in a number of ways, including anxiety, depression, fear, anger, and other intense emotions. Emotional distress can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life, and it can even lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, and fatigue.
What are Emotional Distress Damages?
In a personal injury case, emotional distress is a type of damage or loss that a victim can seek compensation for after being injured as a result of carelessness, recklessness, or negligence. In other words, if you have experienced emotional distress as a result of an accident or injury caused by someone else's negligence, you may be able to recover money for those damages.
The purpose of emotional distress damages is to compensate the victim for the impact that the accident or injury has had on their mental health and quality of life. If the victim is to recover emotional distress damages, the victim must show that they have suffered psychological harm as a direct result of the defendant's actions.
Some of the more common types of damages people seek for their emotional distress include the following:
Pain & Suffering
Pain and suffering refers to the physical and emotional pain caused by the injury or accident. It can include both short-term and long-term effects on your quality of life, including loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and physical limitations.
Mental Health Treatment
Emotional distress can lead to the need for counseling, therapy, or medication to help manage symptoms. These costs can be included in a personal injury claim.
If you were unable to work due to emotional distress, you may be able to recover lost wages as part of your damages.
To recover emotional distress damages, you need to provide evidence to support your claim. In other words, you need to be able to show that the defendant's conduct caused you to suffer psychological harm, and that you have suffered a significant amount of emotional distress as a result.
Emotional distress damages may ultimately be a part of a larger damages award, which may also include compensation for economic damages, like medical expenses and lost wages, and noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering.
Calculating Emotional Distress Damages
Calculating emotional distress damages can be challenging because it is difficult to put a monetary value on a person's psychological harm. However, there are several commonly used methods that can help people to calculate emotional distress damages, including the multiplier method, the per diem method, and the lump-sum method.
The multiplier method is the most common method used to calculate emotional distress damages. This method involves multiplying the victim's economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost wages) by a multiplier that is typically between 2 and 5. The multiplier is based on a number of factors, including the severity of the victim's emotional distress, the nature of the defendant's conduct, and the victim's likelihood of recovery.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method involves assigning a daily dollar value to the victim's emotional distress and multiplying it by the number of days that the victim has suffered from emotional distress. This method is less common than the multiplier method, as it can be difficult to determine the appropriate daily dollar value for emotional distress.
The lump-sum method involves awarding a single, fixed amount of damages for emotional distress. This method is often used in cases where the emotional distress is difficult to quantify, such as in cases of sexual assault or abuse.
How to Prove Emotional Distress Damages
For the same reasons it can be difficult to calculate emotional distress damages, it can also be difficult to prove emotional distress damages in court. However, there are some ways to build a strong case. Here are some tips to help you prove emotional distress damages:
Seek Medical Treatment
If you have suffered emotional distress as a result of an accident or injury, it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. This will not only help you get the care you need, but it will also provide documentation that can be used as evidence in court.
Your medical records can provide a clear picture of your psychological state and the impact that the accident or injury has had on your mental health. It can also show that you have sought treatment for your emotional distress, which can be persuasive evidence in court.
Get a Mental Health Evaluation
Getting a mental health evaluation from a licensed mental health professional can also be helpful in proving emotional distress damages. A mental health evaluation can provide an objective assessment of your psychological state, which can be used as evidence in court.
Your mental health professional can provide an opinion on the extent of your psychological harm, the impact it has had on your life, and the likelihood of your recovery. This can be persuasive evidence in court and can help to establish the severity of your emotional distress.
Provide Witness Testimony
Witness testimony can also be helpful in proving emotional distress damages. Witnesses can provide an objective perspective on your psychological state and can describe the impact the accident or injury has had on your life.
For example, if you have become withdrawn and anxious since the accident, a witness can describe how your behavior has changed since the accident. Witness testimony can be persuasive evidence in court, as it can provide a firsthand account of your emotional distress.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal can be a useful way to document your emotional distress and the impact it has had on your life. In your journal, you can describe how you are feeling, the symptoms you are experiencing, and how your emotional distress is affecting your daily life.
A journal can be persuasive evidence in court, as it can provide a detailed account of your emotional distress over time. It can also show that you have suffered a significant amount of emotional distress as a result of the accident or injury.
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is essential to building a strong case for emotional distress damages. An experienced attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to prove your emotional distress, and they can provide guidance on how to present your case in court.
Your attorney can work with you to gather medical records, witness statements, and other evidence that can be used to support your claim for emotional distress damages. They can also help you to prepare for testimony in court and can present your case in a way that is persuasive to the judge and jury.
Your attorney can also help you to negotiate a settlement with the defendant's insurance company. Settlement negotiations can be complex, and an experienced attorney can help you to negotiate a fair settlement that takes into account your emotional distress damages. We’ll talk more about this below.
Emotional Distress and Personal Injury Settlements
Many personal injury cases are settled out of court, and emotional distress damages can be included as part of a settlement agreement. Settlement negotiations can be complex, and it is important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation for your emotional distress.
If you have suffered emotional distress as a result of an accident or injury caused by someone else's negligence, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and can work with you to build a strong case for emotional distress damages.
Do You Need a Florida Personal Injury Attorney?
If you have been injured and suffered permanent scarring because of the negligence or carelessness of another party, you should speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as possible because you may be entitled to compensation. You can contact us online or you can call our Orlando, Florida law office at (321) 352-7588 to schedule your consultation.
If you need a South Carolina personal injury lawyer, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (843) 638-6590. We have at least one lawyer licensed in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.