What Is Emotional Distress In A Personal Injury Case?
Emotional distress can result from any injury, but always occurs when a person suffers post-traumatic stress disorder or ongoing depression caused by an injury. For example, a lot of traumatic brain injury cases involve depression. These damages are usually best documented by the psychiatrist or psychologist who has been working with the injured victim to treat the resulting emotional injury. Many dog bite clients suffer from emotional anxiety and fear of dogs after they’ve been attacked by a dog. Emotional anxiety and fear of dogs is something that we often claim as an element of emotional distress damage. The best way to establish these damages is to show that the client has required the use of a therapist to help them overcome the fear and anxiety they are bearing after the incident.
Of course, diving into a client’s psychological damages can open the door to a client’s entire mental health history or at least access to a reasonable timeframe. The defense will want to know whether there could be other factors influencing or affecting their mental health issues and emotional distress damages. The defense is entitled to delve into many of those details. If an individual is claiming these types of damages, it’s important for them to understand that in an effort to prove their claims, they will have to open themselves up to some level of scrutiny by the defense. The defense will be looking into their life, their past mental health history, and other personal factors that could impact their case.
In respect to emotional distress damages, we prefer to have evidence of emotional distress damages come from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a social worker. Relatives, friends, or neighbors of the client can also provide evidence of emotional distress. It is better to have others give evidence of emotional distress rather than have it come from the client. Clients should make a list of witnesses they think would be best able to supply testimony about their emotional distress after an accident. Preferably, the witnesses should have known the client before the incident. That way, they can testify to the differences noticed before and after the incident.
Sometimes, someone other than the actual injured party can also claim damages in relation to witnessing the client’s injury. For example, if a child was injured in a collision or was struck by a car, the parent who witnessed it could claim emotional distress. There must be a close familial relationship between the parties to claim emotional distress from witnessing another’s injury. Whenever a person has a case, their attorney should evaluate whether anyone else in their family could have a separate claim related to emotional distress. In one of our cases, a client was attacked by a dog while she was on her cellphone with her husband at the time. He could hear her screaming. As a result, we were able to recover emotional distress damages for her husband due to the contemporaneous attack on his wife and the pain she was suffering at the time of the incident.
There was a recent case that pulled all of this into the 21st century. The case involved a nanny cam and a child that was being injured by their nanny. The parents could see what was occurring to their child through the nanny cam. Consequently, the appellate court determined that they too could have a claim for emotional distress, even though they were not physically present at the scene. Their claim was that they were witnessing contemporaneously the injury to their child.
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