Does a Personal Injury Claim Include Emotional Distress?

Date: December 27, 2023
person looking for lawyer after personal injury

Suffering injuries after an accident can dramatically affect your quality of life. While physical injuries are most commonly associated with accidents, mental harm is also a common injury causing significant impact.

Emotional distress refers to mental anguish or psychological trauma stemming from a traumatic accident or injury and is one of the most challenging conditions a person can suffer. Emotional distress manifests in various forms, such as fear, anxiety, PTSD, depression, panic attacks, insomnia, and other debilitating conditions.

What Types of Accidents Can Cause Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is not as apparent as physical injuries but can be caused by many of the same types of accidents, such as:

  • Car or motorcycle accidents
  • Commercial truck accidents
  • Intentional harm or negligence
  • Medical malpractice
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Workplace accidents

In many instances, emotional distress also pertains to experiencing any of the following:

  • Witnessing a horrific event in a “zone of danger” triggering heightened fear of injury or death.
  • Witnessing the death of a family member.
  • Witnessing a family member’s horrific accident.
  • Negligent mishandling of a deceased family member’s body.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Emotional Distress

Personal injury claims in New Jersey can also encompass emotional as well as physical harm. Experiencing an accident or injury, particularly severe ones, commonly results in emotional trauma, often more so when the accident and injuries are caused by someone else. Under New Jersey law, emotional distress can be a viable component of a personal injury claim and typically encompasses:

  • Emotional distress due to loss of consortium.
  • Emotional distress related to pain and suffering.
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress.

You can pursue a lawsuit for emotional distress against the responsible party if you meet certain criteria.

How Is Compensation for Emotional Distress Determined?

Expenses and loss due to injuries affecting mental well-being are far more difficult to calculate in terms of the associated costs of reaching a full recovery or if full recovery is possible. Mental health and emotional injuries typically fall under “non-economic damages” related to pain and suffering and are based on:

  • The severity and duration of emotional distress.
  • Impact on daily life, relationships, and ability to work caused.
  • Medical treatment or psychological expenses.
  • Compensation awarded in prior cases with similar circumstances.

To be compensated for intentionally inflicted emotional distress, you must be able to demonstrate that what you experienced was “far greater than what any reasonable person is expected to endure” and that the responsible party:

  • Acted with extreme and outrageous conduct.
  • Directly caused emotional distress by their actions.
  • Purposely inflicted actions to cause emotional distress intentionally.

Proving emotional distress can be quite challenging, especially if you did not also suffer physical injuries. Working with a knowledgeable lawyer experienced in handling emotional distress cases is crucial to proving your claim and ensuring a positive outcome.

New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC Help Clients Suffering From Emotional Distress

Experiencing a traumatic accident can cause long-lasting emotional harm, especially if the accident is caused by someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. If you are suffering from emotional distress following an accident, our New Jersey personal injury lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC can help. To schedule a free consultation, call 732-800-9474 or contact us online. Located in Manasquan and Brick, New Jersey, we serve clients in Middlesex County, Atlantic County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, and Ocean County.