Car Accidents and Physical Injuries
While car accidents can result in serious physical injury, they can also leave passengers and drivers with emotional scars that are not readily visible. Without proper treatment, these emotional injuries can lurk beneath the surface for months or years.
In personal injury litigation, mental and emotional injuries are referred to as pain and suffering.
Types of mental and emotional injuries
Mental anguish, emotional distress, fear, and anger are some of the less severe emotional injuries that car accident victims can develop. However, even mild cases of emotional distress can trigger episodes of crying, sleep disturbances, and lack of energy.
While mild cases of emotional distress can go away relatively quickly, more severe cases may require professional medical or psychological assistance. In fact, car accident victims can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, as they may begin to replay the accident over and over or fear driving situations.
Proof of mental and emotional injuries
The only way for an accident victim to prove emotional distress is through personal testimony. Many people who suffer mild emotional distress do not seek professional help, so their only evidence is testimony to a jury.
However, a layperson can’t testify that he or she has developed PTSD.
A mental health provider needs to testify that type of diagnosis.
Impact on damages in car accident claim
Usually, mental and emotional injury only influences someone’s damages if he or she seeks professional treatment. In this case, the victim can seek compensation for medical bills or lost earnings during treatment.
Evidence of emotional suffering does humanize the victim, letting the insurer and jury view the auto accident victim as a regular person. However, emotional damages may not significantly influence a jury award for pain and suffering.
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