How to Sue for Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Case
Emotional distress, just like a physical injury, is a direct outcome of an accident. However, it is not given much consideration by people when they sue others for compensation for the injuries suffered.
But, time and again, it has been proven that emotional distress could be as taxing as the physical injuries suffered by a person. Unlike physical injuries, which heal with time (except for a few cases of permanent physical injury), the emotional trauma that one has to go through does not fade away and could be as fresh as the first day.
But with changing times, people have become more accepting of the fact that emotional distress is as real a problem that should be given due attention.
In case you or any of your relatives have suffered an accident (our condolences), it is very normal for you to wonder whether you can bring a lawsuit for the emotional distress that you might have been (or are being) subjected to because of the same in a personal injury case.
The best thing you can do is contact a personal injury lawyer based in Maryland to have an expert opinion regarding the same. But before doing any of that, here is some basic information that you find handy while suing someone for emotional distress.
What Is Mental Distress, And What Are Its Signs?
Emotional distress is the mental and emotional suffering a person has to go through because of an accident. The origin of a person’s emotional distress could almost always be tracked to an act done by someone out of negligence or intentionally.
Due to the emotional distress, a person is unable to continue with his regular life and may also need therapy and medical attention for the same.
General symptoms of emotional distress include:
- Loss of appetite
- Panic attacks
- Physical and mental fatigue
Unlike physical damage, which can be measured by money spent on treatment, the loss suffered by a person due to emotional distress cannot be measured. Emotional distress also is very subjective and needs to be proven by the injured to get compensation for the same. Whereas in the case of physical injury, the injuries are clearly visible to the authorities.
Because of the above reasons, it gets difficult for people to have a clear idea of whether they can sue the defendant for the emotional distress that they have suffered as a result of the defendant’s action. In such situations consulting a personal injury attorney who is experienced in cases involving emotional distress is the best step.
Can You Sue For and Claim Damages For Emotional Distress?
As emotional distress has been acknowledged to be as severe and impactful in a person’s life as a physical injury, it is recognized as legal harm for which a person at a loss can sue the defendant in an emotional distress lawsuit. One could also raise the same issue along with other physical injuries in a personal injury lawsuit.
However, the laws regarding the same might differ from state to state. The state of Maryland does not recognize an independent claim for emotional distress. However, it does allow for the same when it is along with a physical injury due to either negligence or if done on purpose. This means that along with mental distress, a person might also have to show physical injuries resulting from an act of the defendant.
As the loss suffered due to emotional distress cannot be measured, so is the case with the compensation arising from it. The courts in Maryland, therefore, use the multiplier effect in which the amount one pays for therapy and other treatments for emotional distress is multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5.
The multiple is dependent on the severity of the loss suffered and the circumstances in which it occurred. The multiplier in case of a negligent act would be lesser than the multiplier in case of an intentional act to cause physical as well as emotional distress to a person.
Try getting in touch with a Maryland lawyer who deals in similar cases to learn whether the act committed against you falls under a negligent act or is an intentional one and how much compensation you could expect for the same.
How to Sue for Emotional Distress in Maryland?
First things first, you need to prove that you have suffered emotional distress in the first place. Also, it needs to be established that emotional distress is the result of the defendant’s action. As mentioned earlier, emotional distress is not as apparent as a physical injury, and therefore, the same needs to be proved by the injured.
Documentation is the best way to record emotional distress. This could be done using journal entries where a person can identify what is happening to him. Reports from therapists and psychologists could also prove to be helpful. The change in heart rate and affected sleep cycle of the person recorded from electronic fitness devices could be used as poofs for emotional distress.
Personal Injury Attorney
The second step is to approach a personal injury attorney with ample experience dealing with cases relating to emotional distress.
You can search for the same over the internet or Ask for recommendations from your friends and relatives (better of the two as you would be more comfortable sharing the details of your traumatic experience). The attorney will be able to check whether the documentation of the emotional loss is appropriate.
File a lawsuit
With the help of an attorney, you can file a lawsuit in Maryland against the person who has caused you to suffer such pain.
Before filing a lawsuit, you are required to make sure that the emotional distress was attached to the component of other legal damages. This is because the State of Maryland only recognizes the infliction of emotional distress on a person when he has suffered other legal damage due to the same.
Emotional distress is a part of personal injury and so is recognized by the state of Maryland.
However, before jumping to the conclusion that particular emotional distress could be the basis for filing an emotional distress lawsuit, the rule of thumb should be to consult a personal injury lawyer to get an expert opinion on the case and whether the injuries can be redressed.