When you are in an accident, you can suffer severe injuries and losses. You could find yourself suddenly faced with thousands of dollars in medical bills you are not prepared for, losing out on weeks or months of wages due to recovery time, and severe property damage. However, one type of damage that many people overlook is the emotional distress component. Accidents can have a severe impact on your psychological state, and you can claim compensation for your emotional distress in your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
What Is Emotional Distress?
When you file a lawsuit with an injury attorney or insurance claim for a personal injury, you can recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to tangible, out of pocket losses involved in your case, such as medical expenses or lost wages. Non-economic damages, or pain and suffering, refer to the physical pain and emotional distress you suffer due to your accident. Emotional distress, also known as mental anguish, involves the mental harm you experience because of your injury.
Emotional distress can include multiple types of mental anguish. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common form of emotional distress, as well as anxiety and depression. You could also claim emotional distress in the form of insomnia, torment, humiliation, and anguish. Learn more at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for signs of emotional distress.
How to Prove a Case of Emotional Distress
Since emotional distress is not something you can easily quantify, like medical bills or property damage, proving a claim in court can be difficult. In order to prove your emotional distress case, you must prove that your distress is long-lasting and not simply a fleeting movement. You must prove that the conduct of the at-fault party led to your distress and that your distress is medically significant. You will need to evaluate five factors to prove your emotional distress claim.
- The intensity of your emotional distress
- The duration that you experienced your emotional distress
- Related bodily harm you suffered as a result of the emotional distress
- The underlying cause of the emotional distress and whether it is related to the conduct or actions of the at-fault party
- Doctor’s notes that validate your psychological symptoms
Gathering evidence and documentation to prove these factors can help you prove your claim, such as medical records or witness testimony. Keeping a personal journal can also help you keep track of your emotional and mental state throughout your case. You can submit these pieces of evidence to the court to help support your claim.
How Much Can You Receive for Emotional Distress?
The amount of compensation you could receive for your emotional distress in a personal injury claim will depend on your specific case. Generally, the more severe your emotional distress is, the higher the compensation you could claim. Some states place caps on the amount of pain and suffering damages. While Missouri does not place a limit on the amount you could claim, Kansas only allows you to claim up to $250,000 in pain and suffering per claim.
Courts and insurance companies can calculate emotional distress and other pain and suffering damages using one of two methods. The company can use the per diem method, which assigns a certain dollar amount to each day you suffer from your injuries. You receive the per diem amount for each day between your accident until you reach maximum medical improvement.
The insurance company can also use the multiplier method, which takes the amount of your medical bills and lost wages and comes up with a sum. The company will then multiply this sum by a number between one and five. The more severe your injuries, the higher your multiplier would be. The amount at the end of this calculation will be the amount of damages you will receive.
Have you suffered emotional injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness? You can claim compensation through a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. Contact a personal injury attorney in Kansas City as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.