We hope you find this information helpful!

If you need help with your personal injury case, click here.

Seeking Compensation for Emotional Distress

Submitted by pec on

When filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you may primarily seek compensation for economic losses resulting from injuries. For example, you may have sustained injuries requiring costly medical treatment. Your injuries might also have forced you to miss work. You can seek compensation for these losses accordingly if you have grounds to file a personal injury claim.

However, not all losses resulting from injuries have exact dollar values. Consider the example of emotional distress. Depending on the circumstances, you may seek compensation for this struggle as well when filing a claim or lawsuit.

Understanding Emotional Distress

Emotional distress can take several forms after an accident. Examples include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Flashbacks
  • Fatigue

The limitations you might experience as a result of your injuries can also contribute to emotional distress. For instance, maybe your injuries prevent you from participating in activities you once enjoyed. They might also limit your ability to care for your family. Such limitations could cause significant emotional and mental pain.

See a mental health professional if you’re experiencing emotional distress due to injuries or a traumatic experience. Treatment is available. Seeking treatment also helps you document your emotional distress. This improves your chances of receiving compensation for it later.

Types of Emotional Distress Claims

You may need to understand the specific type of emotional distress claim you’re filing. Common examples include:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life claims: As discussed above, you may file this type of claim if injuries have prevented you from participating in enjoyable activities.
  • Pain and suffering: Physical pain is another struggle for which you might seek compensation when filing a personal injury claim. You could also seek compensation for emotional and mental pain.
  • Loss of consortium: Sometimes, you or a spouse may file a claim for loss of consortium if injuries prevent you from having an intimate relationship with a spouse or partner. Loss of such a relationship can also cause emotional distress.

Be aware that certain types of claims don’t allow you to seek compensation for emotional distress. For example, a workers’ compensation claim, though similar in some ways to a personal injury claim, virtually never lets a claimant seek emotional distress compensation. A lawyer can help you better understand what types of claims you may be able to file.

Several types of situations can result in emotional distress. Examples include:

  • Motor vehicle wrecks
  • Medical malpractice
  • Assaults
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle accidents

That’s not an exhaustive list by any means. If someone else injures you, emotional distress is always a possible outcome.

Proving Emotional Distress

Proving emotional distress isn’t necessarily easy. The following are examples of evidence that might strengthen an emotional distress claim:

  • Medical records, particularly if you underwent counseling or similar treatment for emotional distress
  • The testimony of medical professionals
  • Journal entries

Keeping a daily pain journal is often a wise idea while a personal injury claim is pending. A pain journal is a record in which you describe the way your injuries and pain impact you during your recovery. In your journal, be sure to address both your physical and mental pain. Never exaggerate, as doing so could hurt your chances of receiving fair compensation.

Calculating Compensation for Emotional Distress

Emotional distress doesn’t have an exact economic value the way medical bills and lost wages might. Factors that may influence the potential “value” of your emotional distress when negotiating a settlement include:

  • The severity of your distress
  • The impact of your emotional distress on your life
  • Symptoms of emotional distress (such as insomnia)

Two common methods for calculating compensation for emotional distress and other non-economic losses are:

  • The multiplier method: This method involves adding up all economic losses, then assigning a value of 1.5 to 5 to your non-economic losses. The greater your emotional distress, the greater the number. You would multiply that number by the sum of your economic losses to determine fair compensation.
  • The per diem method: The per diem method of calculating emotional distress involves assigning a daily dollar value to your emotional distress and multiplying that value by the number of days you experienced said distress.

An insurance company might not apply these formulas properly. For example, a claims adjuster using the multiplier method might assign a smaller value to your pain and suffering than you believe is fair. Push back during negotiations if you feel an insurer isn’t being reasonable.

Legal Considerations

Strongly consider speaking with a personal injury attorney to learn more about filing a claim for emotional distress. Various legal considerations can impact your case.

For example, a statute of limitations may require you to file a lawsuit by a particular deadline. Or, depending on the nature of your case, seeking compensation for emotional distress might not always be an option. An attorney can answer your questions and make sure you’re seeking all the compensation for which you’re eligible.

Speak With a Personal Injury Attorney

An insurance company or defendant won’t “hold your hands” and help you calculate emotional distress. Their goal may be to pay you as little as possible.

A legal professional can help you show why you may be eligible for emotional distress compensation. Learn more by taking the Free Case Evaluation today to speak with an independent attorney who subscribes to this website. They may be able to help with your case.