Do pain and suffering include emotional distress?

When you are hurt in a car accident or another mishap caused by the reckless actions or negligence of another entity, Louisiana law provides the right to sue for damages or legal compensation. Plaintiffs can seek two types of compensation through the courts; economic damages, which are losses that are easily calculated including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and damage to real property.

Another kind of monetary award sought in personal injury claims is non-economic damages, which is not as easily quantifiable. These are losses that are just as important as medical expenses and missed earnings, but they are much more subjective. When someone is seriously harmed in an accident, they may be deprived of the pleasure and satisfaction they once enjoyed in life.  Some of their greatest losses can be attributed to their pain and suffering. The legal term pain and suffering describe both physical pain and emotional suffering, so in this sense it does include emotional distress.

In some personal injury actions, the term mental anguish is used interchangeably with emotional distress. Both terms can be used to describe the negative consequences and by-products of physical injuries. 

If you have suffered both physical and emotional injuries because of another party’s negligence, you’ll need an experienced personal injury lawyer to gather the evidence necessary to prove your claim.

Significant impact of pain and emotional suffering

Pain and suffering can be challenging to prove because these losses cannot be assigned a tangible economic value. For example– someone suffers spinal cord injuries in a vehicle accident. The victim, who once enjoyed an active lifestyle and played sports, is now partially paralyzed. This has a tremendous impact on the psychological state as well as the overall quality of life. The person may suffer anxiety, sleep loss, panic attacks and fall into a deep state of depression. They may withdraw from friends and social activities. In short, they are suffering from intense emotional anguish that undermines their enjoyment of life.

Signs of emotional distress

Emotional distress can manifest itself in varying ways. Some people suffer recurring nightmares and sleep deprivation, while others develop Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and become withdrawn.

Car crash survivors who witness the death of a loved one can be haunted for years by feelings of guilt and depression. They may develop an irrational fear of driving or riding as a passenger in a car. This type of emotional turmoil can disrupt nearly every facet of one’s life and is just as debilitating as physical injuries.

Anxiety, fear, depression, humiliation, sleep disturbances, PTSD, and shock all fall under the umbrella of emotional distress.

And while emotional distress is real and often debilitating, you need the help of an experienced attorney to prove these damages. You can count on our Lafayette personal injury lawyers to fight for maximum compensation by providing supporting documentation of your emotional suffering.

How to prove emotional distress

Damages for emotional distress can make a big difference in the value of a settlement or court award. But to prove that your psychological anguish is real, and more than just a fleeting thing, your lawyer must establish:

  • The underlying cause of your distress
  • The duration of your suffering
  • The intensity and severity of your emotional anguish
  • Evidence of physical injuries such as ulcers or migraines that are caused by your emotional anguish
  • Supporting documentation from professional medical providers

Your personal injury attorney will need strong evidence to support your claim. This will typically include your mental health records as well as witness statements from friends, family, and colleagues who can testify as to your changes in behavior, mood and actions after the trauma of your accident.

Seek the compensation you deserve with attorney Bart Bernard

Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Discuss your legal options with a Lafayette car accident lawyer who understands that emotional injuries can be just as bad, if not worse, than the physical counterpart. The initial consultation is free, and if we don’t prevail in your injury claim, you owe us nothing.