Car accidents can leave you with severe physical injuries, but the emotional and mental effects might not be as apparent. They can lurk under the surface for years until you receive treatment for them. Our Los Angeles car accident lawyer explains mental and emotional injuries and how they affect your car accident case.
What Emotional and Mental Injuries Are
Emotional and mental injuries can also be referred to as pain and suffering in a personal injury case. When they’re less serious, they may include anxiety, shock, embarrassment, fear, anger, humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional distress.
Even a mild case of mental or emotional distress can lead to mood swings, crying, loss of interest or dysfunction in the bedroom, trouble sleeping, anger issues, loss of appetite and weight changes, and low energy levels. While a mild case of mental or emotional distress can go away fairly quickly, severe cases may need professional medical or psychological help.
The most serious mental and emotional injuries have explicit diagnoses such as acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s not just soldiers and crime victims who suffer from PTSD. When a car accident victim continues to play the incident in their head on repeat, they may become afraid to drive in certain situations. As an example, perhaps you were in a bad rear-end collision. When you get back on the road, you remain nervous that you’re going to get rear-ended whenever you have to stop unexpectedly. When left untreated, PTSD can become paralyzing.
Proving Emotional and Mental Injuries
To prove you have mild mental anguish or emotional distress, you need to demonstrate your injuries by testifying in court. When emotional distress is mild, most individuals don’t seek professional treatment. Instead, they just tell the jury what happened. However, more serious mental and emotional injuries are considered a medical issue and you’ll need the testimony of a medical professional to prove your case. As an individual, you can’t claim you have PTSD. You need a doctor to back it up.
How Insurance Companies and Juries Perceive Mental and Emotional Injuries
Insurance companies and juries will accept a claim of mental and emotional injury as long as it is proportionate to the severity of the crash and any physical injuries you have. For example, if you only suffered neck strain in a mild fender-bender, you’re not likely to have severe mental anguish or emotional distress, so an insurance company or jury will not pay you compensation for these claims. As a Los Angeles car accident attorney, we can tell you that claiming mental or emotional injuries in these cases will hurt your credibility with both the insurance company and the jury.
Also, if you fail to seek treatment for your mental and emotional injuries, the insurance company or jury is unlikely to accept your claim, even if it’s in proportion to your physical injuries. If you testify that you cry for hours, have no appetite, and are too afraid to drive after the accident, you’re not going to be taken seriously unless you’ve received medical treatment.
How Mental and Emotional Injuries May Affect Your Personal Injury Claim
Mental and emotional injuries don’t usually lead to a big difference in compensation. Minor claims of mental anguish and emotional distress simply allow a victim to be humanized. The insurance company and jury are more likely to view you as a normal person suffering from pain.
The most severe emotional injury claims (those where you’ve received treatment for your mental health) may increase your damages to cover medical bills and lost wages but are not likely to increase damages for pain and suffering. The jury will assume some pain and suffering is par for the course for someone who’s been through a severe car accident. If you have a serious physical injury, you most likely have a severe mental injury as well.
If you’ve suffered a mental and physical injury in a car accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact a Los Angeles car accident attorney at Compass Law Group, LLP at (800) 602-4010 to discuss your legal options. We’ll help you fight to collect the compensation you need and deserve to move your life forward.