Can Psychological Injuries Be Included in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

emotional distressPersonal injuries can not only affect you physically but also emotionally and psychologically. Victims may be able to pursue compensation for mental health damages in a personal injury claim. In fact, in certain situations, California allows victims to sue for psychological damages even if they are not physically injured.

The licensed Sacramento personal injury lawyers at Arnold Law Firm are prepared to help injury victims pursue compensation for damages, including emotional damages you may have suffered because of your injuries. Your case evaluation is free, and we do not collect a fee unless you receive compensation. 

What are Psychological Injuries?

People who are hurt in an accident and experience physical pain may also suffer psychological injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD) or chronic pain syndrome (CPS), conditions that can be brought on by physical injury and/or a traumatic event. For example, depression may be triggered directly by a traumatic brain injury or indirectly due to life-altering limitations, such as being unable to work or do previous activities and tasks.

These types of injuries are normally diagnosed by a psychologist who may need to give testimony to validate and explain the impact on the victim. Psychological damages are often classified as forms of pain and suffering.

As with physical injuries, medical treatment for psychological trauma usually involves meeting with a psychologist regularly. Copays and other costs associated with this may be compensable in your claim for psychological injuries.

Psychological Injuries Often Caused by Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are serious, potentially life-altering injuries. TBI can change a person’s behavior, personality, and ability to regulate moods. Damage to the brain may also result in depression, anxiety or sleep disturbances.

When TBI is caused by another’s negligence, it may lead to a significant, complex personal injury claim. TBI victims may be able to seek compensation for physical and mental changes caused by their injury. Victims may need to have friends or family members provide testimony or a deposition about how the injury changed the victim.

Intentional vs. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

In California, you may be able to sue for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress without having to prove or show a physical injury.

When suing for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, you are required to prove the following:

  • The at-fault party’s actions were outrageous.
  • The at-fault party’s actions were intentional and meant to cause emotional distress, or there was reckless disregard for the possibility of harm being suffered.
  • You experienced emotional distress a reasonable person would not be expected to go through.
  • The at-fault party’s actions were a substantial reason why you suffered emotional distress.

There are two types of claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress in California:

  • Direct claim – You need to prove negligence, existence of emotional distress and negligence was a significant factor in you suffering emotional distress.
  • Bystander claim – You need to prove witnessing the injury or death of a person who is close to you caused serious emotional distress and the injury or death was caused by another person’s negligence. For example, you may be able to file a bystander claim if you witnessed your spouse get into a car accident because of a speeding driver.

Intent, neglect and psychological damages can be exceedingly difficult and complex to prove and present effectively in a lawsuit. It is important to seek experienced legal representation that you can trust.

Proposition 213

There may be other factors that impact the potential of seeking restitution for your psychological damages. For instance, if you did not have car insurance at the time of the accident, your recovery of damages may be limited -- even if you were not at fault. Proposition 213 is a California state law that restricts uninsured drivers from collecting non-economic damages resulting from a car accident. This dramatically limits the potential value of the claim, regardless of insurance policy limits that may apply. The law also applies to drivers who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.

Discuss Your Potential Case in a Free Consultation

When accidents happen, victims are often left with serious injuries, expensive medical bills, damaged property and the stress and anxiety of how to pay for these things. If someone else is responsible for your injury, you may have legal options.

Let us evaluate your claim in a free consultation to determine how we may be able to assist you. Our team works on a contingency basis, so we do not get paid unless you receive compensation.

Call us today at (916) 777-7777. We are here to answer your questions.