How to Prove Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Claim
When you’ve been injured in an accident, not all of your damages are necessarily visible. Certain types of injuries might leave marks that are visible for anyone to see, like a wound from a dog bite or bruising caused by a serious fall. Other injuries can be seen with the help of diagnostic tools like an X-ray or an MRI. But another type of damage that you might experience is emotional distress, which isn’t something that doesn’t manifest physically.
Just because emotional distress isn’t a physical type of damage the way things like scarring or broken bones are, that doesn’t mean those damages are any less significant. Accidents can be deeply traumatic events and it’s not at all uncommon for accident victims to experience some type of psychological damage as a result. For example, a child who is attacked by a dog might develop a lifelong phobia of dogs. Or a car accident victim might develop PTSD after their crash or experience other problems like anxiety, insomnia, or depression. While some people might be able to emotionally move on from their accident, it’s simply not that easy for others to do so.
Since emotional damages are so different from other types of accident injuries, what can be done to prove those damages?
In all types of personal injury cases, personal journals can play a very important role in your case. Accidents of all kinds can be extremely overwhelming to deal with and journals are a great way to make sure that all important details related to your case are recorded. Even people who have great memories can easily forget things like what you talked to your doctor about on a specific day.
While journals are a good way to record all the facts of your case, it’s also important to use them to record how you feel each day and how your injury impacts your life. For instance, if you’ve been injured in a car accident and experience anxiety about driving afterward, you might start to avoid events and places that you used to enjoy going to because of your anxiety about driving. Noting those sorts of things can help build your case.
Testimony from Doctors & Loved Ones
Very often, people seek the help of a therapist after being injured in an accident. Just as doctors can testify about the severity of physical injuries, therapists can also testify to support claims of emotional distress. But you don’t necessarily need to be a doctor to be able to testify about the emotional trauma an accident victim goes through. Close family members like a spouse or child or a friend may be able to talk about signs of emotional distress they’ve personally witnessed.
Psychological stress often results in some physical symptoms, such as headaches, ulcers and other stomach problems, and increased blood pressure. Records of those symptoms could be used to help support your case.
Get Help from a Personal Injury Lawyer
It’s important to note that emotional distress isn’t always a type of damage you may be entitled to collect in a lawsuit, so it’s important to make sure you consult a personal injury lawyer about your case. They will be able to help you figure out if you are eligible to collect for emotional distress and help you move forward with your case. Goodwin & Scieszka has been helping Michigan accident victims for more than 20 years, fighting for them to get all of the damages they’re entitled to — including emotional distress. Contact us and find out how we can help you.
Image: iStock / diego_cervo