Proving Mental Anguish and Emotional Distress
Accidents and injuries come with more suffering than most people can imagine but recovering compensation for these losses is not always easy. Proving damages like mental anguish and emotional distress can be difficult, as these experiences are subjective and hard to communicate to judges and juries.
Nevertheless, plaintiffs do receive compensation for mental anguish and emotional distress as part of many settlements and verdicts. Although there is no X-ray or visible injury attorneys can point to, the right lawyer can help you prove mental anguish and emotional distress.
Some strategies for doing so include:
Showing Intensity and Duration
No one enjoys getting in an accident or sustaining an injury, but mental anguish is more intense than feelings of disappointment or anger. You will need to show the intensity of your emotional pain, usually via your own testimony or that of witnesses. If you are diagnosed with a mental health condition after an accident or injury, this can be another way to show intensity.
Another factor judges and juries consider is duration. If your emotional pain remains with you for a long period, you will have a better case for mental anguish. This is another situation where a diagnosis can come into play, as most mental health conditions must be present for at least 6 months before doctors can diagnose them.
Many lawyers also encourage their clients to keep a journal in the weeks, months, and even years after their injuries.
Relating Psychological Pain to Physical Injuries
In some cases, emotional duress presents itself with physical symptoms. If you have debilitating headaches, stress ulcers, or other physical signs of mental anguish, you should use them to prove your claim.
Mental anguish also applies in cases with serious injuries. Losing a limb, for example, can lead to severe emotional distress. Do not be afraid to tie your psychological pain directly to the injuries you suffered, even if you developed them after your accident as a result of mental anguish.
Highlighting the Traumatic Nature of Your Situation
Having your life threatened in any way or seeing a loved one harmed or injured can have a huge impact on your psychological health. When describing what happened to you, everyone involved in your case should emphasize the traumatic nature of your situation.
Keep in mind that most people recognize certain situations as traumatic. While judges and jury members may not automatically associate a car accident with trauma, you can describe the crunching metal and danger associated with a severe car crash or a trucking accident. Many people also understand the trauma of having a gun pointed at them, losing a loved one, or being the victim of a crime.
If your legal team does its job, no one should question the trauma you suffered.
Providing Medical Evidence
Sometimes, testimony is not enough, and you may need to show your medical records to prove mental anguish. You can get a note from your doctor or psychologist and use any relevant diagnoses to support your claim.
Many people who suffer mental anguish receive diagnoses for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Seeing medical evidence of these conditions can make all the difference for undecided judges and juries.
Case Study: Parkland
Many families who lost children in the devastating Stoneman Douglas massacre in Parkland, Florida have sued the Broward School Board, the sheriff, and others for the wrongful death of their loved ones.
Because parents are asking for damages for mental anguish, defendants are asking to see their psychiatric records. While this seems cruel, providing this evidence may help Parkland parents win their cases.
An attorney close to the case told Insurance Journal that most plaintiffs are able to prove their pain and suffering with testimony, along with testimony from friends and loved ones. Further, many of the other elements we’ve discussed for proving mental anguish already exist in the Parkland parents’ cases.
“I don’t think anyone is going to dispute that these families have suffered mental anguish,” said an attorney for the victims.
Another lawyer involved in the case added:
“Providing proof of loss, while absolutely necessary in any wrongful death case, is like ripping open the scab again and again and again. It hurts.”
How to Win Damages for Mental Anguish
One of the keys to winning damages for mental anguish is hiring the right attorney. Our team at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin has over 200 years of collective legal experience, and we have won damages for mental anguish for countless clients.
We won’t make you rip off bandages for no reason, and we will seek full and fair compensation with the compassion and support you deserve.
Tell us about your case, and we will dedicate ourselves to helping you recover.