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Emotional distress is often the most painful part of any injury. For those who have been physically injured in an accident, the bones or cuts may heal but the mental stress that accompanies them may linger far longer.
Despite what television dramas show, emotional distress may be difficult to prove in court. When a case is discussed with an attorney, one should be prepared to discuss these five issues.
Intensity of Emotional Distress
In most car accident cases, emotional distress does not generally help a claim other than to humanize the victim. The exception is when the auto accident involves extreme circumstances and the victim develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety following the accident.
In cases of more serious claims of emotional distress, the victim should discuss their anxiety/PTSD with a doctor so that he/she can diagnose your condition. A physician may also prescribe counseling or medications to help the individual manage their symptoms.
People who have suffered serious physical injuries in an accident are more likely to also suffer from significant emotional distress. Medical bills or proof of lost wages often help show a greater intensity of emotional distress.
Jurors often conclude that being out of work or having suffered serious physical injuries requiring multiple doctors’ appointments may result in significant mental distress.
Duration of Emotional Distress
In general, the longer someone suffers from anxiety/PTSD, the more compensation you will be entitled to. In the event of an accident, one of the most important things to do is to record everything that happens.
If the accident is severe, the victim should start a journal by writing down their feelings on any given day. This can often be used as evidence to show that the emotional distress is ongoing.
They should also seek follow up care from a doctor for their distress so that it is documented in the medical records. Sometimes, emotional distress is evidenced in small ways.
The victim may, for example, have a hard time playing with their pet or child after a back injury. This can make you sad but not clinically depressed. Recording these feelings can help you show that the injuries impact your emotional life.
Not only will this be good evidence, but it can also help to determine the level of professional help the person needs for their emotional distress.
Physical Harm Of Emotional Distress
Sometimes emotional distress shows itself as physical pain. Dr. Mercola, a New York Times best-selling author shares,
It’s interesting to note that certain emotions are known to be associated with pain in certain regions of your body, even though science cannot give an explanation for why. For example, those suffering from depression will often experience chest pains, even when there’s nothing physically wrong with their heart.
Even though someone may not have the most serious physical injury arising from an accident, their body may respond physically to the emotional stress of the event.
This is another reason that seeking medical care or documenting it in a journal may help. By medically documenting physical and emotional conditions, a physician can show how the two are intertwined.
Underlying Causes of Emotional Distress
One of the most difficult aspects of emotional distress to prove is that the triggering event is the underlying cause of it.
This is another reason why it is important for the victim to discuss their symptoms with their health care providers as soon as possible following an accident.
People already dealing with mental health concerns may experience that the accident has aggravated their pre-existing symptoms of anxiety etc. An article in Psychology Today notes,
If someone has experienced a trauma prior to their current injury or trauma, old memories can potentially be triggered, exacerbating the effects of the newer trauma. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a well-known trauma researcher, explains; “Research has shown that, under ordinary conditions, many traumatized people, including rape victims, battered women and abused children, have a fairly good psychosocial adjustment. However, they do not respond to stress the way other people do. Under pressure, they may feel (or act) as if they were traumatized all over again.” Often, physical pain functions to warn a person that there is still emotional work to be done, and it can also be a sign of unresolved trauma in the nervous system.
For people with pre-existing conditions, it is important to remember that you may recovery for the aggravated emotional distress arising out of your accident.
Call Yearin Law Office Today
Although medical experts are not necessary to prove your emotional distress claim, it is much easier to prove if it has been documented by a medical professional.
Some insurance companies take the position that if the emotional distress is not medically documented, it did not happen. Discussing emotional symptoms with a medical professional will often help to manage symptoms and it will also help your legal claim.
If you or a loved one have experienced emotional distress from an accident, call Yearin Law Office at (480) 502-0708 for a free consultation or contact us online.