One of the most difficult issues when settling a personal injury case is arriving at an equitable dollar value for emotional distress resulting from a personal injury. Also known as mental anguish in the legal industry, it is actually a component of every general damage element of an injury claim. It is not necessary for an injury to be physical for a valid claim to exist, and auto accidents are a prime example of when emotional distress may be claimed because many accidents are actually watershed moments in the life of a victim. This is especially true for those who suffer permanent debilitating injury. Determining a commensurate amount of general damages based on emotional distress is actually a primary reason why it is vital to have an experienced and aggressive personal injury lawyer when seeking whole damages following a serious accident injury.
One of the first issued used when determining emotional distress level is the seriousness of injuries. Some injuries can rehabilitate to former condition in relatively short order. However, this is only applies to minor or moderate injury. These injuries do still produce some amount of mental anguish associated with coping with life after the fact, but general damages awards will not be extensive. Serious and permanent injuries are different. If the accident caused any level of extensive injury and whole damages could be awarded by a sympathetic jury in a trial, the emotional distress evidence could increase settlement potential substantially when coupled with injury severity. Each case is unique to some degree, but the combination is generally consistent when general damages are being evaluated.
Another issue when determining emotional distress level is the length of time the victim will endure during the recovery process. Permanent injuries are always assessed on the degree of difficulty coping with injury ramifications. Catastrophic injuries are the most serious cases in this class, such as paralysis of any type or being confined to a wheelchair for much of the time. Being unable to complete personal tasks contributes heavily to emotional anguish assessment, and especially when injury rehabilitation will be an ongoing process.
One of the most distressing situations for any accident victim is when they are involved in a fatal accident. Regardless of whether it was a friend or not, being involved in an event where someone dies is a difficult situation to process. Mental anguish can last a lifetime for many who survive when others perish. Many accident victims relive the event over and over as they grow older, and memories can be haunting. This especially applies to drivers who were even partially responsible for causing an auto accident. Details of how any injury happened can be the instigator for much long-term grief for many accident victims.
Many individuals who are injured in an accident are unable to work following the fact. While loss of income can be claimed as a special damage compensatory element, inability to work can also disrupt the daily routine of claimants who enjoy working and miss being at work. Even the loss of fellowship with co-workers during recovery can be an issue causing emotional distress on some level. Many actually are eager to return to work and never really adjust to the change in their daily schedule.
Physical pain hurts more than the mere physical impairment and body response. Almost all accident victims are placed on some type of pain medication, but they are only effective as a mask in most injury situations. Many times, additional medication is even necessary to assist in reducing mental anguish, but this also only goes so far in helping. And potential dependency on any drugs could follow after the injury heals, further worsening the problem. Accidents that result in extended hospital stays are easily the worst and having to deal mentally with a hospital term is distressing in and of itself. Pain during injury rehab can create emotional grief as well when the injuries are taking an inordinate amount of time to heal.
There are essentially two methods of calculating general damages for emotional distress in a personal injury claim. One method is the per diem assessment where a fixed amount is determined for each day and added each day the victim will spend rehabilitating. For permanent injuries, this is the remainder of the claimant’s life. The method that is typically used is the multiplier method. If an agreement is reached before going to trial, your personal injury lawyer and the claims adjuster will agree upon a multiplying factor and use the total specific compensatory damages based on medical bills and treatment records to multiply in arriving at a number. This multiplier is typically between 1-5 depending on injury severity and ongoing prognosis from treatment professionals. A jury can use either method as well as assign punitive damages in gross negligence evidence cases, which is a situation most insurance companies and defendants want to avoid at all costs.
Emotional distress is a central component of many personal injury claims, and it is also the element of an injury claim that insurance claims adjusters work most diligently at reducing. It takes experience and serious legal knowledge to arrive at a settlement amount that measures up financially to the level of anguish suffered by the injured victim. A personal injury lawyer from our firm will focus on these general damages in crafting a case for whole compensation. You only have one opportunity for financial justice, and many times it will require taking a case to court when insurers are being difficult regarding emotional distress damages in a claim. Call today and let us put our experience to work for you while helping relieve the emotional fallout of your accident injury – Call 1-800-ACCIDENT or click the link below to schedule your free case review.