An accident caused by someone else can result in more than physical harm. The experience and your exposure to injuries suffered by yourself or others can lead to emotional pain. Emotional pain might not be visible like a body wound. However, it can still affect various aspects of your life for a long time, making it difficult to enjoy the things you used to.
Missouri law allows those pursuing personal injury claims to recover emotional distress damages. Because these damages are subjective, great care must be taken to calculate a fair amount. To obtain compensation, you must prove that the at-fault party’s negligence caused you to suffer medically significant emotional harm.
What Is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is the mental harm someone suffers after having a traumatic experience. It may be apparent in victims of car crashes, slips and falls, dog bites, medical malpractice, and other accidents.
In some cases, emotional distress is fleeting and only has a minor effect on the injured party. In others, it is long-lasting and can significantly impact a person’s life.
Symptoms of emotional distress manifest in various ways, including:
- Change in appetite
- Change in sleep patterns
- Withdrawing from others
- Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
- Substance abuse
- Feelings of fear, guilt, or grief
- Bursts of sadness or anger
These symptoms may be exacerbated, or other symptoms may become apparent, when the individual experiences a triggering event, such as certain sights or sounds. Over time, emotional distress can affect the person’s relationships, job, and ability to live life in general.
In personal injury cases, you may seek compensation for emotional distress as part of pain and suffering damages. Generally, it’s sought in addition to financial recovery for lost wages, medical bills, and other calculable expenses and losses.
How Is Emotional Distress Calculated?
Putting a dollar amount on emotional suffering can be difficult. Unlike medical expenses, lost wages, or repair costs, the injured party won’t have a bill or receipt for each of their symptoms.
Generally, emotional distress is calculated by identifying its effects on your life.
Some of the factors considered include:
- The severity of the harm
- The duration (or expected duration) of the harm
- The effect on your daily routine and lifestyle
- The impact on your personal and professional relationships
Two methods exist for determining how much compensation should be awarded for emotional distress. One is the multiplier method, where the value of the economic damages is multiplied by a number between 1 and 5. The number used is based on the severity of the emotional harm after considering the factors listed above and others.
The second method is the per diem method. This is where the daily costs of the emotional distress are determined and totaled for the duration the harm is expected to last.
Missouri does not place a cap on the amount of compensation a person can receive for non-economic damages unless they stem from a medical malpractice case.
How Do You Prove Emotional Distress?
To seek compensation for emotional distress, you must prove that the mental harm you suffered is medically significant, lasting, affecting your life, and caused by the at-fault party. You may demonstrate the first three factors by providing medical records, a personal journal documenting the impacts, and expert testimony.
To prove the fourth factor, you must show that the at-fault party’s negligence or recklessness was the cause of your accident. This means demonstrating that they acted below the standard of care or engaged in intentional misconduct. Had it not been for their actions or inactions, the accident would not have occurred. But because of their negligence or recklessness, you suffered emotional harm.
Speak with an Attorney About Your Case
Recovering emotional distress damages in a personal injury case can be complicated. The process requires a careful review of the facts and the psychological impacts of your accident and injuries. When suffering from both physical and mental pain, taking care of the details can be challenging. It is a good idea to have a lawyer help with your case.
If you need legal representation in Kansas City, please call Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. at (888) 398-2277 or submit an online contact form today.