Car accidents can have a significant impact on a person’s mental well-being, often leading to emotional distress. In addition to physical injuries and property damage, the emotional toll can be substantial. If you’ve experienced emotional distress following a car accident, you may wonder: can you sue for emotional distress after a car accident?

Our car accident lawyers have decades of experience helping accident victims recover the maximum compensation for their injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Can You Sue for Emotional Distress after a Car Accident?

What is emotional distress? Emotional distress refers to the psychological harm caused by an incident or event. In the context of car accidents, it can manifest as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbances, or other mental health conditions. Proving emotional distress can be challenging, as it is not a tangible or visible injury like physical harm. However, it is recognized in personal injury law as a non-economic damage, and under certain circumstances, you may be able to sue for compensation for the emotional suffering you have endured as a result of a car accident. Typically, emotional distress is one of several non-economic damages in a personal injury claim.

Elements Required to Sue for Emotional Distress

To pursue a successful claim for emotional distress after a car accident, certain elements must typically be established:

  1. Duty of care. All drivers owe a duty of care to the other people on the roadways.
  2. Negligence. You must demonstrate that the other party involved in the accident was negligent or at least partially at fault. This could include behaviors such as reckless driving, running a red light, or driving under the influence.
  3. Causation. It is necessary to establish a direct link between the accident and your emotional distress. Medical records, testimony from mental health professionals, and evidence of changes in your daily life after the car accident can support this connection.

In addition, emotional distress must be documented in the following ways:

  • The severity of the distress
  • The duration the distress has persisted
  • Evidence of how the distress has harmed you (strains on your relationships, lost wages, psychiatric hospitalizations, etc.)
  • A medical evaluation by a medical doctor who can establish the harm you endured in the car accident
  • The psychiatrist or therapist treating you will have to attest to your diagnosis and how they expect you to heal from your emotional trauma

A car accident lawyer is an invaluable resource to help gather evidence and build your case.

Legal considerations

It’s important to note that laws regarding emotional distress claims vary from state to state. Some states only allow compensation for emotional distress if it accompanies physical injuries, while others recognize “pure” emotional distress claims that do not involve physical harm. Additionally, some states have specific requirements, such as setting a minimum threshold for the severity of emotional distress.

Consulting with a personal injury attorney who specializes in car accidents is advisable because they are familiar with the personal injury laws in your state. They can evaluate the strength of your case and guide you through the legal process.

Emotional distress resulting from a car accident can be debilitating and seeking compensation for the suffering endured is understandable. While suing for emotional distress is possible, it can be complex. To navigate the legal complexities effectively, it is essential to consult with a qualified attorney to assess the viability of your claim.

Contact a car accident lawyer today!

A car accident lawyer can help you recover a full and fair settlement for the injuries you sustained in a car accident with no up-front costs to you. We know the sneaky strategies used by insurance companies to get injured people to agree to settlements far below what they are worth. Our clients typically end up with a settlement or jury award that is five to ten times larger than they could have negotiated on their own. We have been representing people injured in Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. Contact the experienced and hard-working personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Mount Vernon, WA today for a FREE consultation!

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