Almost all serious accidents cause some degree of emotional distress to victims and their family members. Living through or witnessing a traumatic incident, such as a car crash or dog attack, can lead to significant emotional, mental and psychological harm.
In Texas, the civil justice system allows injured accident victims to pursue financial compensation for their emotional distress in addition to economic losses, such as medical expenses. You may need professional legal assistance from a Dallas personal injury lawyer, however, to prove this type of loss.
What Is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is a type of damage award that falls under the broader umbrella of pain and suffering damages. It is a noneconomic damage rather than an economic damage. This means it is an intangible loss the victim suffered in the accident rather than a tangible loss.
Examples of economic damages are lost wages, medical expenses, property repairs and court costs. Examples of noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are emotional distress, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, psychological trauma, inconvenience, humiliation, lost quality of life, loss of services, loss of consortium, and grief.
In Texas, an accident victim may qualify for compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages, depending on the circumstances. To receive compensation, however, the victim has the burden of proving these losses.
Common Evidence of Emotional Distress
The burden of proof in a personal injury case is a preponderance of the evidence. This means before a judge or jury will award you financial compensation for any losses, including emotional distress, you or your attorney must prove the defendant is more likely than not responsible for your accident and that you suffered compensable losses as a result.
Proving a personal injury case requires clear and convincing evidence that what you are claiming, including any losses listed, is more likely to be true than not true. Although each case is unique, common sources of evidence used to prove emotional distress in personal injury law are:
- The victim’s medical and therapy records
- An official medical diagnosis, such as post-traumatic stress disorder
- Medications prescribed for mental health conditions
- Statements from the victim or his or her friends and family members
- Expert testimony from doctors and/or psychologists
- The victim’s injury journal
- Photographs of scarring or disfigurement
It is critical to document your emotional distress as much as possible after a serious accident in Dallas. Do your part to build a claim to emotional damages by going to a hospital immediately, telling your doctor about any emotional symptoms you’re experiencing, seeing a professional psychologist for any mental or psychological trauma, and keeping an injury diary to describe how your injuries affect you.
All of these actions can help you build a claim to emotional distress damages. It is also important to note that a pre-existing mental health condition does not prohibit you from seeking compensation for accident-related emotional distress.
What Is an Emotional Distress Claim Worth in Texas?
If you succeed in proving emotional distress during a personal injury claim in Dallas, you could receive an insurance settlement or judgment award for this loss as well as others related to the accident. A pain and suffering award could significantly increase the final value of your award, as it is up to a jury to determine how much you deserve based on the extent of your physical and emotional injuries. The value of your claim will depend on the severity of your losses.
How much you receive for emotional distress may also depend on Texas’s damage cap. If you file a medical malpractice claim, there is a statewide damage cap of $500,000 total per health care facility and $250,000 total for an individual physician. Your noneconomic damages in a medical malpractice claim cannot exceed $750,000 total. If you are seeking compensation for emotional distress from any other type of accident, however, Texas does not have a damage cap.
For more information about proving emotional distress and obtaining maximum compensation, speak to a personal injury lawyer in Dallas today.