Proving Mental and Emotional Distress After a Car Accident

After a car accident, the physical consequences are usually obvious: personal injury and property damage are prime examples. Unfortunately, victims often suffer the more far-reaching effects of mental and emotional distress. Not only are these types of injuries more difficult to detect, but they can also last for years after the accident. So, proving the nature and extent of distress can be a challenge. But if you’re a victim in need of compensation, it is absolutely essential to talk to your attorney about it.

Be on the lookout for signs that you or a loved one is experiencing mental and/or emotional distress. These can include anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, confusion, terror, and apprehension, among others. Radical changes in temperament or behavior may also be strong indicators. Once enjoyable activities may lose their appeal, and a person’s entire personality may even be altered. If a loved one gets an injury, take note of any departure from that person’s general disposition. If you are the victim and begin having unusual mood swings or other experiences, make a record of these.

Effects of Distress

Emotional distress may also take the form of difficulty sleeping, depression, and stress. These are difficult enough on their own. If they are too serious, they can begin to affect work, family, and quality of life. Generally speaking, emotional distress will have a lasting impact on the victim’s well-being. The victim must show that the distress is not just a one-time event, but a daily problem.

Understanding how the accident took place is a critical step in assigning fault and recovering damages. So, you will need to show that the other driver was somehow negligent and that his actions caused the car accident. The most convincing cases of emotional distress involve some proof of physical injury to the victim. This is known as the “impact rule.” Under this rule, there must be a physical impact on the body, resulting in injury, which in turn results in distress.

Impact Rule

The impact rule exists to limit liability by preventing random bystanders from claiming injury. Without physical impact on the victim, it is much more difficult but not impossible to prove emotional distress. An example of a non-injury emotional distress case involves a loss of consortium. This is where the victim suffers the loss of a spouse or parent due to the car accident.

Many forms of evidence may be presented to establish – or refute – claims of mental anguish and emotional distress. Some of the most obvious include medical diagnoses, psychiatric evaluations, notes from therapists and doctors, and prescription lists. Pictures and videos recorded before and after an accident may show emotional, mental or physical changes. Witnesses can testify as to changes observed in a loved one’s personality, or the victim may talk about these. Your car accident attorney will explore all relevant evidence and determine how best to present it in court.

Several factors will be considered in trying to quantify a victim’s emotional distress and mental anguish. One is the intensity of the distress or anguish: the more intense, the better chance there is of recovering damages. The duration of the pain – including its frequency – is a second factor. The third is the nature of the underlying cause of the distress. Fourth, related bodily injuries: the physical impacts associated with the distress. Finally, the psychological symptoms will be relevant. These factors will all turn on the facts that are introduced at trial.

Contact a Georgia Car Accident Attorney

The discussion above provides only a glimpse of the issues surrounding emotional and mental distress cases. Every accident involves complicated facts and numerous parties, and no two cases are alike. A car accident attorney in Atlanta, GA is best qualified to examine your claim and determine what sort of compensation may be available. 

If you or a loved one has experienced distress after an accident, it’s important to seek professional treatment. You should also contact an attorney at your earliest convenience. The experienced litigators at Schneider Hammers are ready to talk with you today.