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Suing for Emotional Distress After Car Accident

A car accident can cause you to suffer a lot of emotional distress, and you may not even realize it until long after the accident is over and your physical injuries have healed.

In Missouri, when you are in a car accident, you can generally collect for two different types of damages. Economic damages are financial items that are concrete. Things that fall under the economic damages category are medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages are different. They aren’t concrete; they’re often highly subjective. Things that fall into the non-economic damage category are pain and suffering and emotional distress.

Emotional distress can cause the type of lasting scars that are much harder to prove or to put a price on.

emotionally distressed woman after car accident

After a car accident, it’s normal to feel a range of intense emotions. Shock, denial, fear, and guilt are all common reactions. Unfortunately, for some people, these feelings can be so overwhelming that they experience emotional distress.

What Is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is a type of psychological injury that can occur after a traumatic event. It’s often characterized by anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Most commonly, emotional distress damages are the things that have an impact on someone’s mental psyche or stability. They may have an impact on someone well after the accident is over, and they can severely affect that person’s ability to cope from day to day. The amount of emotional stress that someone can experience after an accident varies from one accident to the next and from one person to another, which makes it very difficult to determine a price to put on them.

People who experience emotional distress may feel like they’re in a state of constant fear or panic. They may experience flashbacks, irritability, have trouble sleeping, concentrating, or eating, and may feel disconnected from the people around them.

Things like fear, anxiety and sleep loss can all result from the emotional distress of a car accident and lead to long-term chronic mental disabilities. Emotions like fright, humiliation, extreme sadness, and even depression can all result from being in a car accident. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is very common, and it can range from them not being able to get behind the wheel again to having chronic and permanent depression and anxiety issues.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. They can provide you with the support and resources you need to recover from your experience.

What Causes Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?

Several factors can contribute to emotional distress after a car accident, including:

  • The severity of the accident
  • Whether or not you were injured
  • If you witnessed the accident
  • Your relationship with the people involved in the accident

Why You Shouldn’t Neglect Your Mental or Emotional Health After a Car Accident

When it comes to car accidents, a lot of people tend to focus on the aftermath one can see, like physical injuries or damage to the car.

The same goes for insurance claims – most of them only reflect these visible side effects. However, car accidents can also mentally and emotionally impact the victims. If that happens, the insurance claim should account for the treatment necessary for healing the mind too.

woman depressed after car accident

It’s difficult to assess the exact number of people who experience emotional distress or mental issues following a car accident. However, many studies show that there is a strong link between the two.

It is, as such, fairly common for victims of car accidents to develop these conditions, and, interestingly enough, they may do so even if the collision didn’t have a significant impact. One of the most common problems car accident victims face after a crash is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can develop even months after the accident.

Other types of emotional or mental issues that can affect car accident victims:

Of course, there is no telling what kind of mental or emotional condition a car accident victim will suffer from. The important thing in these cases is to pay attention to the signs and seek help immediately. Unfortunately, because these issues can appear long after the accident, many victims don’t connect their disorder to their accident and, as a result, don’t include its treatment in the insurance claim.

“How Can I Manage Emotional Distress?”

Some helpful coping mechanisms include:

  • Talking to someone who will understand and offer support, such as a friend, family member, therapist, or counselor.
  • Writing about your experience in a journal. This can help you process your thoughts and feelings.
  • If possible, exercising regularly can release endorphins, which can help improve your mood.
  • Avoid using drugs or alcohol to cope with your emotions. This will only make things worse in the long run.

Proving Emotional Distress

To prove your emotional distress, you’ll generally need to provide evidence from a mental health professional who can attest to your condition. This may be in the form of a diagnosis, medical records, or testimony. You may also use written accounts from family or friends to show how the accident has impacted you and support your case.

Sadly, unlike other car accident injuries that are more straightforward to document, emotional distress can be more difficult to prove. And often, the insurance companies will try to downplay the severity of your symptoms or claim that they’re not related to the accident. This is why it’s important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you build a strong case and get the compensation you deserve.

Since there is no simple calculation for how much someone has suffered either emotionally or physically, it is a good idea to have a St. Louis car accident attorney involved in your accident case. They will be able to calculate what you are entitled to in both economic and non-economic damages to ensure that, if you should have any mental illness arise resulting from the accident, later on, you are fairly compensated and you will have the means to get the help you need.

The most important thing to do when you are in an accident and suffer emotional distress is to seek the help of a medical professional who can diagnose and help to get you back on track. Since emotional distress is very difficult to prove, you will want to have the proper documentation to allow your car accident attorney to plead your case and either get a fair settlement or escalate the case to court.

Free Consultation with a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer

Don’t talk to an insurance claims adjuster before speaking with The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. We can help you avoid making statements that may affect the outcome of your case. The consultation is free; you don’t pay unless we get you money!

Free Consultation (314) 361-4242
Updated: October 27, 2022