What is Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Case?

When most people think of injury cases, they think of the physical injuries that a person sustains. However, the process of securing compensation after sustaining a severe injury caused by the actions of another party involves various types of losses. Yes, this does include the physical injuries and the subsequent medical bills. However, this also includes different types of unseen injuries, including emotional distress. Here, we want to briefly discuss what emotional distress is, the effects it can have on a victim, and how a person can secure compensation for these losses.

Understanding Emotional Distress After a Personal Injury

Emotional distress damages are specifically designed to compensate injury victims for the way that the injury has psychologically affected their daily life. There are various ways that emotional distress can manifest itself in a victim’s life. For example, all of the following regularly fall under the umbrella of emotional stress:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Sleeplessness
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PDST)

Emotional distress is a very subjective type of injury, and no two people experience injuries in the exact same way. There is no exact definition of emotional distress, and it can be challenging to prove to an insurance carrier or a personal injury jury that an injury has significantly affected a person’s emotional well-being.

Documenting Emotional Distress

Documenting emotional distress can be challenging. If a person’s injuries have reached a level to where they have to file a personal injury claim or a civil personal injury lawsuit, then it is likely they are seeking medical treatment.

When a person seeks medical care for an injury caused by another party, they need to let their doctor know about any emotional or psychological symptoms they have experienced as a result of the injuries and their recovery. Medically documented emotional distress can be a powerful tool used by attorneys to help prove these injuries have occurred.

Additionally, we always recommend that injury victims keep a daily diary or journal where they record how they feel throughout each day after an accident and during the recovery. This can include recording the small ways in which the injury has affected a person’s life as well as the major ways that their life has been impacted by the injury.

Finally, it is not uncommon for an attorney to call upon the friends, family members, and coworkers of injury victims to testify about how the injury has affected the victim.

Securing Compensation for Emotional Distress

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the actions of another individual, business, or entity, you will likely be entitled to various types of compensation. This will include economic damages as well as non-economic damages such as emotional distress. Securing compensation for emotional distress can be challenging, particularly because there are no direct bills or receipts that can show this type of immeasurable loss.

In these situations, an attorney typically uses a “multiplier method” to calculate non-economic damages. This means that the attorney will add up all of the economic damages (medical bills, lost wages, property damage, out-of-pocket expenses) and then multiply that total by a set number (usually a number ranging from 1.5 to 5). A Seattle personal injury attorney will then add up the totals of economic damages and non-economic damages to reach the final “demand” that they will present to insurance carriers or at-fault parties in these situations.