A personal injury accident may leave you with more than physical injuries. Accident victims often suffer what is called emotional distress, or psychological harm, as a result of the traumatic experience. Texas courts recognize emotional distress as a type of non-economic or general damages that can be recovered as compensation, if negligence can be proven in a personal injury claim.
Proving Emotional Distress
Unlike a physical injury, which can be substantiated with medical bills and evidence of lost wages, emotional distress can be much harder to prove. The reason being that there is rarely evidence in the form of financial losses to accompany this type of damages.
As a result, the injured person should seek treatment for an accident-related psychological or emotional condition, just as they would for physical harm. This can include treatment from a doctor, psychologist, mental health specialist, counselor, and more. Medical records of the treatment received are vitally important to proving emotional distress, including:
- Records from visits to a physician or counselor
- Insurance claims or receipts of payments made to attending physician or counselor
- Notes from the attending physician or counselor
- Testimony from the attending physician or counselor
- List or receipts of prescribed medications
- Journal of victim’s day-to-day emotional and physical symptoms, and experiences
- Testimony from family members and friends, confirming the victim’s mental state and impact on their life
All of which can be used as evidence in negotiations with the at-fault party, or at trial.
Types of Emotional Distress
There are two different types of emotional distress damages recognized by the state of Texas: intentional infliction and negligent infliction.
Intentional Infliction: the defendant’s harmful behavior was intentionally done to cause emotional distress (e.g. physical or sexual abuse, death threats)
Negligent Infliction: emotional distress due to an accident caused by the defendant’s negligent acts.
One of the largest hurdles is attempting to prove that a defendant’s actions only resulted in mental harm. In most cases, emotional distress must have some form of physical harm associated with it, to be successful on a personal injury claim. However, Texas is one of the few states that allow emotional distress claims to be pursued without the presence of a physical injury. Some examples of situations that may warrant a claim for emotional distress damages, are witnessing a traumatic event, invasion of privacy, defamation, or the parents of an abducted child.
Symptoms of Emotional Distress
There are certain symptoms a doctor or counselor may use to diagnose emotional distress, including:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Sleeping problems or insomnia
- Chronic fatigue or lack of energy
- Anger or bitterness
- Compulsive or obsessive behaviors
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of sexual function, etc.
- Physical signs, such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, weight fluctuations, and more.
It is important to have evidence that demonstrates the intensity and duration of the emotional distress. This is what will prove the harm is severe enough to deserve financial compensation.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Proving emotional distress can be difficult, but with a uniquely crafted legal strategy we can make sure you are rightfully compensated. Contact the Houston personal injury lawyers at Milano Legal Group by dialing (713) 489-4270 today.