How Do You Prove Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?
How do you prove emotional distress after a car accident? Like any type of injury, proving emotional distress requires evidence. Evidence is easier to come by when it comes to proving a physical injury than a mental injury. When you understand what you need to show to an insurance adjuster, judge, or jury, it is easier to understand the ways you can build a case for your mental anguish.
What is an emotional distress claim?
If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, you are entitled to compensation for all of the losses you experience. Most obvious are the physical injuries and related costs, but the emotional anguish is also eligible for compensation, and it can take a lasting toll on your quality of life.
Compensable emotional distress can range from formally diagnosed conditions like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder to lingering psychological symptoms like anxiety and nightmares that impact daily life. Most jurisdictions require that in personal injury cases, emotional distress claims be accompanied by physical injury.
How to prove emotional distress with evidence
Physical injuries may be easier to document, but there are ways to document emotional effects as well.
- Therapist – If your emotional distress is severe enough to require therapy or other intervention, documentation from your treating professional may establish a psychological diagnosis and a link to the accident
- Doctor – If your emotional distress manifests in physical symptoms like weight loss, headaches, or ulcers, a physician may be able to attest that it is a result of your mental anguish
- Expert witness – You may need to hire an expert witness to prepare a report outlining their professional opinion tying your emotional reaction to the crash as well as your prognosis
- Journals and diaries – Diaries kept regularly after an accident can be a persuasive record of the toll that the crash had on your daily life
- Personal testimony – Though generally less persuasive than documentation, your testimony at deposition or at trial can offer valuable insights into the effect that the crash has had on your outlook
Factors affecting an emotional distress award
Like physical injuries, the degree of impairment often affects the amount of compensation that can be recovered. The evidence should not only establish that you suffered emotionally, but how seriously. It should show:
- Severity of distress
- The duration that it lasts, whether recurring or persistent
- Relationship to the cause
The more clear a picture that can be shown between the severity of the accident and the seriousness of the emotional impairment you have suffered as a result, the more likely you will be to receive full compensation for the losses.
Deadline for bringing an emotional distress claim
It is important to speak with an attorney if you may have a valid emotional distress claim. Like physical injuries, mental injuries must be brought before the statute of limitations expires. These are set by state laws and can be tricky to figure out if there are any special circumstances that apply. Missing a filing deadline can jeopardize your right to recovery, so seek competent legal analysis.
What is my emotional distress claim worth?
Emotional distress is typically viewed as a component of pain and suffering and can easily be undervalued. Insurance adjusters may offer a nominal amount for the distress or offer a low-ball overall pain and suffering amount based on the total cost of the medical bills.
An experienced New York car accident lawyer will clearly demonstrate the total impact that the car crash has had on your life. When dealing with insurance companies, your attorney will give the adjusters and attorneys evidence upon which to base a fair settlement value. They will also help a jury grasp how the accident has affected you in non-monetary but serious ways.
Speak with a car accident lawyer
When you are injured in an accident, put your trust in a car accident attorney who will fight for the full value or your claim. The attorneys at Douglas & London put their experience to work for victims of personal injuries, holding those at fault responsible for the harm they cause. Call today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.