Can You Sue for Emotional Distress from a Car Accident?

Posted on 03/06/23

Emotional Distress from a Car Accident | The Law Offices of James A. Welcome

There’s no question that car accidents are traumatic, and they can even be catastrophic. As you heal from your physical wounds, there are often psychological wounds underneath the surface that could take months or years to heal.

In some instances, people never recover from the emotional trauma of an accident, leading them to long-term suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). For some accident victims, they may fear driving or being a passenger in a vehicle, which can severely impact their quality of life.

The question is whether you can sue the responsible party and recover additional compensation for your emotional distress. The answer is yes; you can file an emotional distress lawsuit in Connecticut, but whether you will be successful in the claim and how much money you can get depends on several factors.

 How Common is Emotional Distress?

If you are traumatized after an accident, you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 40 percent of car accident victims report experiencing emotional trauma.

Types of Emotional Distress

Emotional distress is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of psychological symptoms and conditions, including, but not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • PTSD
  • Grief
  • Isolation
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Suicidal thoughts

These symptoms can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including having nightmares, flashbacks, and engaging in self-harm.

Financial Compensation for Emotional Distress

 Also described as “pain and suffering,” accident victims can potentially be compensated for this less tangible loss in the same way that they can be compensated for lost wages and medical bills.

The amount of financial compensation you could receive for an accident that caused emotional distress will vary on the severity of your symptoms and the strength of your evidence.

Compensation for emotional distress is also available in wrongful death cases, where the surviving family members could receive money if the accident led to a fatality. While there is no amount of money that replaces a family member, the courts will seek to assign a value that is as fair as possible.  

Again, the range of compensation for emotional distress varies. In Connecticut, the figure could range from a few thousand dollars to more than $1 million. A personal injury attorney with experience in the field can assess your circumstances and give you an estimate of the value of your case.

Proving Emotional Distress

Because there are no physical injuries, proving an emotional distress case requires gathering additional evidence.

 The evidence that can be used to support your claim of emotional distress includes:

  •  An injury journal: As you are recovering from the accident, describe how you’re feeling each day. Describe your mood and how it is affecting your daily life. Be sure to document any consequences you have experienced from your emotional distress, including trouble at work, not being able to drive, unexplained outbursts, etc.
  • Records from a psychologist or psychiatrist: A professional medical evaluation can strengthen your case, as the medical professional can scientifically draw a link between the incident and your emotional state.
  • Statements from friends and family members: Friends and family will inevitably notice how your emotional distress has impacted your life. Their statements can be used to support your claims.
  • Expert opinions: In addition to firsthand accounts from medical professionals, medical experts engaged in this field of study can also provide supporting evidence.

Filing an Emotional Distress Lawsuit in Connecticut

With close to two decades of personal injury experience, the Law Offices of James A. Welcome has a reputation for excellence. The attorneys approach each case with compassion and sympathy, while aggressively advocating for the rights of the people we serve. Call today (475) 241-0824 for a free consultation.