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When Can an Injured Person Make a Claim for Emotional Distress?

May 27, 2020
Traumatized woman suffering from emotional distress from accident.

Being hurt in an accident can cause more than just physical injuries. In Indiana, victims who experience psychological problems after a traumatic incident can seek compensation for emotional distress.

Winning money for emotional distress will hinge upon how significant the person’s mental suffering really is. In the past, Indiana courts only allowed people who were physically impacted by the accident to recover for emotional harm. Today, the ability to recover has been broadened to include certain witnesses to the event. But because it’s not easy to put a dollar amount on someone’s emotional suffering, it’s wise to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney instead of trying to settle a claim on your own.

At Truitt Law Offices, we have the knowledge and experience needed to effectively handle your emotional distress claim and prove the extent of your injuries. Our compassionate personal injury attorneys in Fort Wayne are committed to helping clients recover maximum compensation for all the ways that accidents affect their lives.

For more than 40 years, we’ve been helping personal injury victims in Fort Wayne and the surrounding areas get the money they deserve for injuries caused by others’ negligence. Let us do the same for you.

If you’re suffering from emotional distress after an accident caused by someone else, our skilled personal injury lawyers will fight for your rights and help you get on the road to recovery.

It’s simple to get started. Call, fill out our contact form, or chat with us online to set up your free consultation.

What Is Emotional Distress?

Some people come out of an accident with little to no emotional scars. Others are severely impacted. Some of the common conditions associated with emotional distress claims include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Humiliation
  • Irritability
  • New fears related to the accident (e.g., fear of driving after a crash, fear of dogs after an attack, etc.)
  • Nightmares
  • Physical signs of stress, like headaches or ulcers
  • Mood swings
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

When these conditions impact your ability to enjoy life or function the way you once did, you could have a valid emotional distress claim.

Who Can Receive Emotional Distress Damages in Indiana?

The law limits who can file emotional distress claims to certain individuals. These parties include:

  • The victim who was physically injured in the accident
  • Another person who was directly involved in the incident
  • A bystander who either witnessed the accident or came upon the scene soon after the death or injury of a loved one

How Do You Prove Emotional Distress Damages?

To win a claim for emotional distress, you need to prove that:

  • The distress is ongoing or more than just momentary.
  • The distress was directly caused by the defendant’s actions or conduct.
  • The distress is medically significant.

There are several ways that emotional distress can be proven. Most importantly, you should have medical documentation of the psychological effects of the accident. This can come from your medical records, prescriptions for anxiety or other medications, and testimony from medical experts.

Sometimes, the psychological impact of an accident prevents individuals from returning to work. In those instances, statements from employers and co-workers may also support your emotional distress claim.

Keeping a journal can also show the duration and intensity of your emotional distress and its impact on your life. For example, the journal might include notes on your mental and emotional health after the accident and any day-to-day effects that you notice.

How Much Can You Claim for Emotional Distress?

It’s challenging to determine exactly how much a person’s emotional distress is worth. Courts don’t give juries a specific formula to follow to calculate an amount. Instead, they must consider:

  • How much a victim’s injuries have impacted their daily life and normal activities
  • The severity of a victim’s physical injuries
  • Any permanent disfigurement caused by their injuries, such as facial scarring

Many victims suffer exorbitant costs because of emotional distress. They might need to see a psychologist for the rest of their lives. The distress might prevent the victim from being able to enjoy life, work, and provide for their family again.

Similar to calculations for physical injuries, damages for emotional distress shouldn’t just cover the harm that a victim is currently suffering. This compensation should also cover the costs of the emotional harm they are likely to have to endure in the future because of the accident.

Is Emotional Distress the Same as Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a type of noneconomic damage that victims can claim after an accident. It refers both to the physical pain that the victim experiences due to his/her injuries as well as the emotional trauma suffered as a result of the accident.

Emotional distress is one of the mental injuries that falls under the umbrella of pain and suffering. It encompasses any kind of detrimental psychological impact that stems from the accident.

Are There Different Types of Emotional Distress Claims?

While emotional distress is often a component of a pain and suffering claim, it is also part of other types of injuries that victims might claim, such as:

  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress: Occurs when someone deliberately does something that they know or suspect will cause someone else significant and enduring emotional harm.
  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress: Happens when a victim suffers emotional harm because of another party’s reckless actions.

It’s very important to speak with an experienced Fort Wayne, Indiana personal injury lawyer when pursuing a claim for emotional distress. At Truitt Law Offices, our attorneys will outline your legal options, investigate your claim, and help put a full and fair value on your case.

How Much Money Can You Get for Emotional Distress?

Since emotional distress is considered a noneconomic damage, many states limit the amount of money that victims can get for this type of injury. In Indiana, these caps depend on the type of personal injury claim that you are filing.

For example, the most money that a victim can get for a medical malpractice claim is typically $1.25 million, while the most a victim can get in a claim against the state is usually $700,000.

Other Indiana laws limit whether a person can get money for emotional distress as well. Under the state’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims, victims typically have only two years to file for compensation. Fail to file by the deadline, and you could lose your right to any money for your injuries altogether.

The amount of money you are able to recover could also depend on whether you share fault for the accident that injured you. Indiana’s comparative negligence rule allows for courts to reduce or eliminate victims’ access to compensation if they were partially responsible for the accident.

Get Help With Your Emotional Distress Claim

If you are experiencing emotional problems after being injured in an accident in Indiana, you don’t have to suffer in silence. The proven personal injury attorneys at Truitt Law Offices can craft a strong and solid legal claim for emotional distress for you. To learn more about your legal options, call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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