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Emotional Impact of Injuries Suffered in a Car Accident

emotional damage in an accident

There’s no doubt that a car accident can cause severe and physical permanent injuries, but it often surprises people to discover how much of an emotional impact the accident can have as well. This can range from a feeling of mild anxiety when you think about the crash to full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder that includes depression, nightmares, and frequent flashbacks. If you have recently experienced a car accident, your emotional injuries could linger for years after your physical injuries heal. This is one reason why judges and juries hearing personal injury cases consider the plaintiff’s request for pain and suffering.

Understanding the Compensation Category of Pain and Suffering

When you have sustained significant injury due to the negligent actions of another person, you could potentially receive both actual and implied damages, otherwise known as economic and non-economic.  The first category includes your actual financial losses, such as medical costs, lost income, and damage to your vehicle and other property. The second category of damages are far more subjective because neither you nor anyone else can immediately attach a dollar figure to them. Pain and suffering, which often refers to emotional distress, is a common type of non-economic damages in a personal injury case. The following are some of the milder forms of emotional damage you could suffer due to an accident:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Bouts of crying
  • Embarrassment
  • Emotional distress
  • Fear
  • Humiliation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Low energy level
  • Mental anguish
  • Mood swings
  • Shock
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Weight gain or loss

You may find that you experience some or most of these problems off and on for a few weeks and then they go away. Alternatively, the above issues could become severe enough to interfere with your quality of life. You may need to seek professional mental health services to overcome your strong emotions, and you may never go back to living the more carefree life that you enjoyed before the accident. As an example, you may avoid driving altogether for a fear of another accident and have no reliable way to get to work.

Don’t ignore these issues or downplay them. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health after a personal injury, and it’s likely that you have some trauma to work through because of your accident. Of course, you may find it helpful to open up to friends and family members while recovering from your injury. On top of that, however, you may also want to seek professional assistance.

A therapist with experience in PTSD and related conditions may be able to help you work through these emotions and find coping strategies. You may only see a therapist a few times, or you may choose to stay with them while you come to terms with your new normal.

Proving Emotional Injuries in Court

If you feel that you experienced mild emotional distress, you can describe it yourself without the need for expert witnesses. However, you will need to have your mental health provider testify on your behalf if you’re claiming severe emotional distress such as post-traumatic stress disorder. You may also call an expert in the field to testify how an accident like yours can affect people on an emotional level. At Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz, Attorneys at Law, we use our considerable experience and resources to locate such experts to testify on your behalf. This is just one of advantages of working with a personal injury attorney as early in your case as possible.

Attitudes towards Compensation for Emotional Distress

Most insurance companies, judges, and juries accept a claim for emotional distress if it matches the severity of the injury. For example, all parties would question your claim of severe emotional trauma resulting from a common fender bender. They might also question your claim if you didn’t receive prompt treatment for any emotional injuries that you claim to have.

When it comes to this portion of a personal injury claim, it often comes down to how much sympathy each of the parties has for your situation. It’s also important to understand that Virginia doesn’t allow plaintiffs in personal injury cases to ask for emotional distress unless it’s accompanied by physical pain and the other party inflicted it deliberately. Because of the subjective nature and strict state statutes on emotional distress, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to prove that you deserve the compensation for emotional distress that you’re requesting.

Get a Free Review of Your Personal Injury Case

Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz is an experienced personal injury law firm in Charlottesville, Virginia. We encourage you to contact us at 434-977-7977 to discuss emotional distress and other aspects of your car accident case. We offer this initial case review at no charge.

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