Find out how emotional and psychological injuries can affect your car accident case.
A car accident can cause serious physical injuries. However, they can also leave passengers and drivers with emotional and/or mental injuries that might not be as apparent. Emotional and mental injuries can stay lurking underneath the surface for many months or years until the person receives treatment. In this article, we will be discussing emotional and mental injuries and how a car accident case is affected by them.
What are Emotional and Mental Injuries?
In personal injury litigation, emotional and mental injuries are usually referred to as “pain and suffering.”
Emotional and mental injuries on the less severe side of the spectrum may include problems like embarrassment, shock, anxiety, humiliation, anger, fear, emotional distress and mental anguish. Individuals with even mild cases of emotional or mental distress may experience bouts of crying, sleep disturbances, mood swing, lose interest in sex, sexual dysfunction, lack of energy, weight fluctuations loss of appetite and severe anger. A mild case of emotional or mental distress might go away fair quickly. However, a more serious case may require professional psychological or medical help.
More severe emotional and mental injuries may have specific diagnoses like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or acute stress disorder. You might have thought that only crime victims or soldiers were affected by PTSD; however, it can also affect car accident victims. Some individuals continue to replay the accident in their head over and over again or start being afraid of certain kinds of driving situations. For instance, maybe you were in a small bad rear end accident. After you return to the road, you may start to worry that you are going to get rear ended whenever you stop in a situation that is unusual, like allowing a child to cross the street in the middle of a block. For people who don’t get help sooner instead of later PTSD can potentially become paralyzing.
How to Prove Emotional and Mental Injuries
You demonstrate mild emotional distress or mental anguish through your own testimony. A majority of individuals who have mild emotional distress do not seek out professional treatment. They just tell the jury what has happened to them. However, with more severe emotional and mental injuries it becomes a medical issue, and medical testimony is required to prove it. A lay person is not allowed to testify that she or he has PTSD. The only one who can attest to this kind of diagnosis is the individual’s mental health provider.
How Emotional and Mental Injuries are Perceived By Juries and Insurance Companies
Juries and insurance companies accept claims for emotional and mental injuries as long as these mental injury claims are in proportion to the severity of the accident and/or physical injury claims.
For instance, if somebody was part of a mild fender bender accident and didn’t suffer anything other than neck strain, and then claims to have severe emotional distress and mental anguish, with the entire range of symptoms, an insurance company will not accept these claims or offer compensation. A jury will not either. Someone who claims emotional or mental injuries that are completely out of portion to the physical injuries they have suffered will lose all of their credibility with the jury and insurance company.
Furthermore, even when the claimed emotional and mental injury is in proportion to the physical injuries, the jury and insurance company are less likely to accept these injuries if the individual did not seek treatment. For example, if an injured person testifies that she or he is too afraid to drive due to the accident, cries for hours at a time, has lost her or his appetite, but has never received any medical treatment, than an insurer (and a jury, most likely) will not take those claims seriously.
How Emotional and Mental Injuries Affect Your Car Accident Claim Damages
Claims for emotional and mental injuries, for better or worse, usually do not play a significant role in determining an injured individual’s damages (how much compensation the person receives). Minor claims of emotional distress and mental anguish allow an injured person to be humanized. It allows the jury and insurer to view the injured individual as a regular person who is suffering from pain.
When there are more severe mental injury claims (those where the injured person has received mental health treatment), can increase the individual’s damages regarding increase the medical bill claim and maybe for lost earnings as well. However, they don’t necessarily significantly increase the number of damages that are awarded by a jury for pain and suffering. It is likely for jurors to assume some mental pain and suffering going with the territory. So in other words, if you have suffered a severe physical injury, then it is likely that you have also suffered a serious emotional injury.
Schedule Your Free Consultation With Our Personal Injury Lawyer
Christopher Montes de Oca is an experienced personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. Chris is recognized as a “Super Lawyer Rising Star,” a recognition that only 2.5 percent of lawyers receive, because of the exceptional results he has seen and his dedication to his clients. Chris services clients throughout Los Angeles, including Echo Park, Maywood, Long Beach, Whittier, Glendale, La Mirada, Pico Rivera, Hacienda Heights, and Alhambra. Call him today for a free consultation at (562) 901-4664.