When you are involved in an accident or sustain an injury due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or carelessness, physical pain is only part of the equation. Many people also suffer significant emotional distress. This is no less real, and no less debilitating. You may feel afraid long after the incident is over. You may suffer from mood swings, irrational anger or irritability, excessive anxiety and worry, pervasive sadness, or isolation. You may withdraw from people and previously enjoyable activities. You may not be able to work to your full capacity or at all. But how to prove emotional distress from a legal standpoint? Can you receive emotional distress damages?
What is the Legal Definition of Emotional Distress?
We talked about the emotional consequences of an accident, but there are other legal definitions. Some states allow you to sue for emotional distress when there is no physical injury. For example, for sexual harassment victims or those exposed to slander/libel can claim distress even though there is no physical contact.
In Florida, most emotional distress cases must meet the “impact rule.” That is, there is some physical contact/injury.
For the purpose of this article, we will discuss the emotional distress that often accompanies an injury. But please do not hesitate to contact LaBovick Law Group if you have suffered emotional distress without accompanying physical contact. We can help you navigate this difficult terrain.
How to Prove Emotional Distress
- Duration of injuries. Recurring or chronic pain as a result of an accident or incident tends to carry greater weight. If you have suffered distress or trauma, the amount of time plays a role in your ability to receive compensation, as well as the amount.
- Severity of emotional/mental pain. If your suffering is exceptionally intense or severe, you may be able to receive a higher level of compensation.
- Physical symptoms. When your distress has resulted in physical symptoms, such as ulcers, headaches, rapid or irregular heartbeat, etc., you may have a viable case against the party which caused your injury.
- Type of accident. Some accidents are seen as more severe or traumatizing, though we recognize this is completely subjective. Unfortunately, you do typically stand a stronger chance if your accident/incident was particularly traumatizing in nature.
- Actions (or failures to act) on the part of the defendant. Were the actions, or failure to take action, on the part of the defendant “outrageous” or “extreme”? Cases may be brought for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional pain.
- Medical records. Of course, when you provide medical documentation of your distress and trauma, you can build a more compelling case. Doctor, psychologist, and counselor records and notes are essential.
- You witness the injury or death of a family member.
- You witness an event that causes the fear of injury or death (e.g., you are in the “danger zone.”)
- The body of a deceased family member is improperly handled.
This area of the law is particularly complex: if you are entitled to emotional distress damages; however, rest assured that LaBovick Law Group is here to fight – tirelessly and aggressively – for your rights. We understand that emotional suffering can be just as intense and debilitating as physical pain, and you should not have to cope with the cost and burden of this on your own.