Emotional Distress vs. Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

February 5, 2021 Posted In Personal Injury

If you are injured through the negligence or recklessness of another party, the law permits you to seek compensation for your losses through a personal injury claim. Those losses might include pain and suffering, which describes a combination of physical pain and emotional distress that a victim can be suffering from. 

Emotional Distress vs. Pain and Suffering

Most claims for emotional distress compensation are in connection with the pain and suffering resulting from a physical injury caused by another party. However, where pain and suffering is attached to a personal injury claim, emotional distress can be brought as a separate claim in extreme circumstances, even if it doesn’t involve a physical injury. For example, watching a loved one die in an San Bernardino accident can cause psychological trauma that possibly warrants an emotional distress claim, even if the victim isn’t injured. 

What is Emotional Distress? 

Emotional distress, also referred to as mental anguish, is a type of psychological injury resulting from a negligent or intentional incident. The courts recognize emotional distress as a type of damage that a civil lawsuit can recover compensation for.

It may consist of highly unpleasant mental reactions, such as: 

  • Depression
  • Humiliation
  • Anxiety 
  • Insomnia
  • Fear
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Embarrassment
  • Humiliation 
  • Anger or bitterness
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss of sexual function, etc. 

Emotional distress can manifest in physical illness, such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, weight fluctuations, fatigue, and more. Any of these conditions can demonstrate that a person’s emotional distress is neither insignificant nor fleeting. Legally speaking, emotional distress is a type of non-economic damages, which means their value is subjective and not a calculable loss.  

What is Pain and Suffering? 

Pain and suffering is a legal term that extends to both physical pain and mental or emotional injuries. Emotional distress can be included as a form of pain and suffering. In general, damages for pain and suffering can include: 

  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Physical impairment
  • Emotional distress or mental anguish

Victims can pursue compensation for past, current, and future pain and suffering. 

Proving Emotional Distress

Proving emotional distress can be difficult when it is not connected to a physical injury. You are required to demonstrate: 

  • The distress is not fleetingly.
  • The defendant’s conduct caused the distress.
  • The distress is medically significant.

When unattached to pain and suffering damages, emotional distress can be pursued in the following two types of claims: 

  • Intentional Infliction: the defendant acting purposefully or recklessly in an extreme and outrageous manner, resulting in emotional distress. 
  • Negligent Infliction: emotional distress caused by the defendant engaging in negligent misconduct, failing to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable harm.

A great deal of evidential and documented support is needed in order to be successful with an emotional distress claim. For example, medical reports from a doctor or psychologist, the severity of the initial incident and the length of time you’ve been experiencing distress, as well as testimony from both family and experts on how your life has been impacted. 

Most victims will require the help of a personal injury lawyer in San Bernardino to prove emotional distress damages, since it can be a subjective area. 

Seek Advice from a Skilled Riverside Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury lawyers at Hanson & Mouri, we focus on representing victims and their families who have been wrongfully injured as a result of another’s careless or intentional conduct. Whether it is physical, emotional, or both, we will help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call (951) 688-0006 to schedule a free consultation today. 

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