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Can I sue for emotional and mental distress from a car accident?

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Car crashes are still a top cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the United States. When someone’s negligence causes an accident and injures you, you may be eligible for several types of compensation, including emotional and mental distress.

A 2020 study on car accident survivors found that 32.3% developed PTSD. Another 17.4% suffered from depression and 5.8% experienced anxiety. Put into context, those statistics are staggering. The Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard recorded 30,295 crashes in 2023 alone.

But do these statistics mean you’ll automatically receive compensation for emotional and mental distress? Not at all.

Economic vs non-economic damages

Emotional and mental distress are considered non-economic damages under “pain and suffering.” This includes, but is not exclusive to, conditions such as PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Economic damages and physical injuries are easier to prove because they are visible. Psychological damages are seldom instantly apparent and show up in many ways.

Some may struggle to accept and identify emotional distress. But you can look for lingering symptoms such as:

  • Poor sleep quality
  • Extreme changes in weight or appetite
  • Isolation
  • Mood swings
  • Prolonged tiredness
  • Memory problems
  • Obsessive or compulsive behaviors

Physical symptoms like headaches and constipation are not included. But you should also take note of them. Florida is one of the states that still subscribes to the impact rule. It also requires you to prove a physical impact to recover emotional damages.

Other things to remember if you are pursuing compensation

Emotional distress is not just a disruption of routine. It affects your quality of life. To make a successful emotional distress claim, you must prove that:

  • The distress is not momentary
  • The defendant’s actions caused the distress
  • The distress is medically significant

It can prove tricky since you cannot do that alone. To substantiate your claim, you must provide:

  • Your testimony
  • Testimony from mental health professionals who treated you
  • Testimony from your friends and family members

You can pursue compensation that can cover the following:

  • Therapy
  • Medication
  • The impact on your quality of life

Diagnosing emotional and mental distress isn’t as challenging as it once was. However, prejudice still exists. The key to proving your case and receiving the compensation you deserve is receiving prompt treatment from a mental health professional and filing a claim that meets all legal requirements.