Damages for Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Case
Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter provides insight on how compensation is calculated for personal injury cases involving damages for emotional distress in New York City.
New York City, NY / August 1, 2019 / -- If you’ve been injured in an accident, you know that the emotional toll of an accident can often be just as serious and debilitating as the physical damage. In terms of receiving compensation for your injuries, calculating the damages for your physical injuries is generally a straightforward process.
This is because you have medical bills and the time you missed work to help calculate how much your injuries have cost. Also using doctors’ reports and prognosis, you are able to get an accurate idea of how much the sustained physical injuries will cost in the future.
But there is also a different side to accident injuries, and it’s not as easy or straightforward to calculate these costs. Victims of accidents do not receive a “statement” or “bill” that quantifies the cost of an emotional injury. Nevertheless, these injuries are still very real, often life-changing, and you may be entitled to receive compensation for them.
Whether you’ve been injured in a car accident, aviation accident, or mass transit accident, catastrophic situations often result in long-term emotional and mental distress for the people who experience these types of accidents.
What Are Emotional Injuries?
Psychologists and counselors know that emotional injuries may impact a person much longer than a physical injury. For example, a person injured during a flight may struggle to ever get back onto an airplane. It’s possible they may experience extreme panic at the thought of boarding another flight. It can also prevent the person from enjoying travel, flying to see friends and family, or doing the necessary travel required for work.
For someone injured in a car accident, getting back on the road as either a passenger or driver may prove to be exceptionally distressing. Some people who sustain injuries in car accidents find they struggle to ride even as a passenger in a car, as this causes them to feel out of control. If you were involved in a taxi or bus accident, you may also feel panicked at the thought of putting your safety in the hands of a cab or bus driver.
Emotional distress can manifest in a variety of ways. For example, it’s possible for a person to become anxious or depressed following a personal injury accident. For others, an accident can give rise to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can lead to debilitating panic attacks or flashbacks that prevent them from ever fully recovering from the accident. In the most extreme cases, injury victims may even develop a substance abuse problem as a direct result of their emotional injuries.
Some people are so emotionally distraught after an accident, they develop physical side effects from their mental stress. These physical symptoms can take the form of ulcers, insomnia, headaches, or chronic pain.
When a person’s emotional stress becomes ongoing and constant, it can even cause a person to lose their job. In this scenario, it may have a snowball effect and make the injury victim even more depressed, as they struggle to stay on top of their finances.
How Do Courts Calculate Emotional Distress?
Because emotional distress isn’t easy to measure, it can be difficult for courts to put a number on these types of injuries. There is not a calculator or strict formula for calculating the cost of an emotional or mental injury.
This is why it’s important for injury victims with emotional injuries to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer in NYC. A skilled and thorough lawyer can help assemble evidence and, if necessary, expert witness testimony to help establish the scope and nature of the injury victim’s emotional distress.
In some cases, putting a monetary figure on emotional distress can be relatively straightforward. For example, the injury victim may be able to provide receipts or billing statements from a psychiatrist or counselor’s office. It’s also easy to prove damages by providing receipts for psychiatric medication or medical treatment related to mental health.
However, not all emotional injuries are easy to prove. How do you calculate the monetary cost of living with constant panic or anxiety? Is it possible to put a price on the toll of depression or PTSD?
In these cases, there are things injury victims can do to help establish their case for emotional distress. Examples include:
Keep a daily or weekly journal – If you have emotional distress following a personal injury accident, you may want to start writing down your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. This can help document how your emotional injuries impact your work and your everyday life since the accident.
- See a counselor – When you’re physically injured, you see a medical doctor. Few people would simply stay home and wait for their arm to heal if they suffered a serious fracture. Similarly, someone who suffers a gash on their skull due to a car accident wouldn’t attempt to stitch it up at home. Speak to a professional if you believe you are experiencing any type of condition related to your accident.
When it comes to emotional injuries, however, people don’t always get the medical or professional help they need. Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t always afford emotional injuries the respect or recognition they deserve. This is why it’s important for anyone who has suffered an emotional injury to seek proper professional treatment.
If you have experienced an accident that led to emotional distress, keeping a daily journal and getting professional treatment can help your recovery and also prove the scope of your damages. It’s also important to discuss your case with a New York City personal injury lawyer. Get in touch with Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter, a top attorney at a New York City personal injury law firm, to discuss your case and understand your legal options.
New York City Personal Injury Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.