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Emotional Distress Damages

November 15, 2018

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Being injured in a car collision, as a pedestrian, or walking in a store and slipping on an unmarked puddle can all bring serious physical injuries. We are all aware of this, as everyone has experienced some degree of physical pain before. As such, when most people think about a personal injury lawsuit, they are preoccupied with two types of damages: the medical costs associated with the injury and other financial costs such as missing work or being debilitated, and the pain and suffering aspect of the injuries and potential ongoing surgeries and rehab time. Medical expenses and lost income, as well as pain and suffering damages, are often the largest part of a personal injury claim, but another aspect of a claim should include the psychological damage that was inflicted upon the victim. This is called emotional distress or mental anguish.

Clinical Evidence of Mental Anguish or Emotional Distress

If a motorcyclist is paralyzed from the waist down after a collision with a distracted driver, it would likely be very easy to prove the expected enormous degree of mental anguish that they would be suffering from. However, it is not always so clear cut in every case. Sometimes, the physical injuries do not fully represent the severity of the psychological injuries. Take, for example, a child who is attacked by a dog. The injury may have only resulted in a dozen stitches, but that child will now very likely have a lifelong fear of dogs. Every time they see a dog as they walk by, their heartbeat and their blood pressure increase as the fight or flight hormones cortisol and adrenaline are pumped through their body. They may suffer panic attacks or anxiety even as an adult from the traumatic experience they had as a child. In either case, whether the mental anguish should be obvious or not, the victim would need an experienced attorney to gather evidence and successfully explain and argue their claim. Signs of emotional distress, according to WebMD, include the following:

  • Problems sleeping;
  • Rapid and/or unexplained weight gain or loss;
  • Lethargy;
  • Brain fog;
  • Poor memory;
  • Anger;
  • Unexplained physical problems;
  • Lost libido;
  • Mood swings;
  • Antisocial feelings; and
  • Compulsive or obsessive behaviors.

PTSD and Traffic Collisions

According to the American Psychological Association, being involved in an auto collision is the leading cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in America. PTSD may not be noticed in the weeks or even months following an incident, so many people are unaware they have it until something triggers them. In some cases, this can be months or even years later, and by then the opportunity to file a claim for emotional distress has passed. As such, it is important to work with an attorney after a personal injury accident no matter how serious or minor your physical injuries may be.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer

Emotional distress is an important aspect of many personal injury claims, and you need to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that this is properly addressed in your claim. Do not hesitate to contact the Philadelphia attorneys of van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim today at (215) 486-0123 for assistance.


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