How to Prove Emotional Distress
When you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may suffer a range of damages, including financial losses, physical pain and suffering, and emotional distress. While some damages can be easy to quantify, such as hospital bills, medical costs, and loss of income, other intangible losses are harder to prove.
Emotional distress, also called mental anguish, is a very real injury that is notoriously difficult to prove. Unlike a physical injury, which can be photographed or otherwise documented, emotional injury is psychological, and can include grief, disappointment, despair, shame, or public humiliation. Fortunately, there are a few established methods that can be used to prove emotional distress in a Texas personal injury claim.
Fundamental Cause of Emotional Distress
One of the first things the judge will consider in an emotional distress claim is the actual cause of the injury. More severe or traumatizing situations are more likely to receive settlements for emotional distress than casual incidents with little or no physical injury.
For example, if you are in a minor car accident but do not experience any injuries, you may be less likely to receive compensation for emotional distress. However, if you are injured in a mass shooting, the court may determine that the circumstances in which your injury occurred warrant compensation for emotional distress.
Medical Professional Opinion
One of the most powerful pieces of evidence in any personal injury claim is a doctor’s note. To help prove emotional distress, medical notes and records from a therapist should provide details regarding the intensity, severity, and longevity of your emotional distress.
A medical opinion should also indicate that the mental anguish you experienced was a direct result of the negligent or harmful actions of the at-fault party in your claim. For example, if you were in an industrial accident and suffered from PTSD as a result, your therapist’s diagnosis and treatment notes could be used as evidence to prove your claim for emotional distress.
Physical Injury Severity, Pain Intensity, and Recovery Period
If you have suffered severe injury that resulted in intense pain or a long recovery period, you can use this information as evidence of emotional distress. It is generally understood that more severe injuries can result in more extreme mental anguish, so establishing your physical injuries can support your claim for psychological damages.
Use medical documentation and doctor’s notes from medical professionals who treated your injuries, including emergency room physicians, critical care doctors, surgeons, and your primary care provider.
Physical Signs of Emotional Distress
In addition to providing physical proof of the injuries that caused your emotional distress, you can also establish your claim for emotional distress with evidence of physical issues caused by your emotional state. Emotional distress can cause a variety of physical symptoms, including:
- Increased heart rate
- Body, shoulder, neck, and back pain
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Loss of sleep
- Upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation
- Hives and acne
- Shortness of breath
If you experience physical symptoms as a direct result of emotional stress due to your injuries, these symptoms can be used as evidence of your mental anguish. Document any symptoms you have and be sure to share the information with your doctor, so that they can include this information in your medical record.
How an Injury Attorney Can Help
If you are injured due to someone else’s negligent or malicious actions in Texas, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses. Even if you are working with an insurance company or the at-fault party to come to a settlement, having an attorney on your side can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Insurance companies very rarely offer any compensation for mental anguish or emotional distress. In fact, it can be difficult to obtain the full amount you deserve for damages such as lost income and hospital bills. The insurance company’s first priority, whether they represent you or the opposing party, is to save money. They are motivated to pay as little as possible for your losses. If you accept a settlement without an attorney to negotiate on your behalf, you may find yourself suffering the effects of the accident for years to come.
In addition, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003 limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit for personal injury. Insurance companies know about this time limit and will often extend negotiations until you have no choice but to accept a lowball offer.
A Texas lawyer well versed in personal injury law will know how to navigate these challenges to establish your emotional distress claim, so you can seek compensation for all your related losses.
Contact Our Texas Personal Injury Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have been injured due to someone else’s actions, the Texas injury attorneys at Clay Jenkins & Associates are here to help. Contact us today to discuss your emotional distress claim. Our legal team will provide you with a thorough case analysis and help you decide how to proceed.