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Emotional Damages in a Personal Injury: It’s Not Just About the Money

January 29, 2017 Personal Injury

While a personal injury attorney can help you win a settlement for reimbursing your expenses after an accident, no amount of litigation or money will ever make the pain go away. The fact of the matter is that accident victims are human, and fixing problems isn’t just about paying medical bills. An accident can put a lot of strain on a family and have a major impact on someone’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

The attorneys and supporting staff at Wilson Kehoe Winingham know this. We’ve seen a lot of personal injury cases and worked with many families who are in a lot of pain. It’s not fair for anyone’s quality of life to have a price tag, but we try our best to make sure that families get what they need in the wake of an accident. Here is some more information on the part of a personal injury lawsuit that gets overlooked: how you feel.

Greene v. Westinghouse Electric Corp.

In the case Green v. Westinghouse, and others like it, the courts decided that spouses can hold other parties accountable for what an injury did to their marriage. In the legal world, we have a term called “loss of consortium.” This is just a way of referring to the benefits that a spouse can give to their partner that are not included in the benefits that they’d get from their job. A married couple’s intimacy, emotional support, parenting, and household responsibilities—among other things—can all be affected by an injury or a death.

When dealing with damages for loss of consortium, there are many things to consider. The first among them are the injuries, both in terms of what they are and how long they last. Things like the length and stability of the marriage will also be considered. You might not be comfortable sharing intimate details in a courtroom, but these can help make your case, and your personal injury attorney will be there to support you and your spouse.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Stress

You might be reluctant to try collecting damages for your emotional damages because so much of today’s media portrays these attempts as selfish ploys to get money out of insurance companies. The fact of the matter is that anxiety, depression, and other emotional symptoms are very real and can hurt a lot, and that other people and entities can do something to inflict them on you.

Not everything counts as emotional distress, however, no matter how offensive that may seem. Emotional distress can also be indirect, like in cases where your family is hurt by someone. There are three elements that must apply for a party to be liable for emotional trauma and any related bodily harm:

  • Extreme or reckless conduct that goes beyond indecent. This can include things like an actor doing something that they know will traumatize or hurt the victim or if the relationship between the actor and the victim make an insult particularly hurtful.
  • The actor’s intention to be reckless, meaning that they must either plan on causing trauma or be aware of the possibility that it could occur and disregarding it completely.
  • The severity of the emotional stress. Severity is hard to define (although its intensity and duration can help make things a little more concrete), but it must be clear that no one should have to endure the trauma. While the conduct that caused the trauma can be proof of emotional distress in some cases, other bodily evidence like headaches, ulcers, or insomnia can help your case.

A personal injury attorney can help you put together your case for emotional damages. They will likely tell you to accumulate as much evidence as you can—health narratives, letters, journals, and medical records can all provide evidence. It will be hard, but getting personal and heartfelt will help your case, and your attorney will be there for you every step of the way.

Emotional Distress Damages

Because of the subjective nature of emotional distress, it can be hard to assign damages. There’s no reliable formula to determine the damages, and they can be capped. Damages for emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation, and loss of consortium are viable damages in a personal injury lawsuit—just like pain and suffering, disability, and lost wages are. Your attorney will be able to tell you more about the kinds of damages you could receive for your personal injury case.

Contact WKW’s Personal Injury Attorneys

If you’re willing to fight for what’s right, let’s see if we can help. The Indianapolis injury attorneys WKW have both years of legal experience an the compassion to help fight for families just like yours. Give us a call at 317.920.6400 or use our online contact form. Your consultation is free and no-obligation.

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