Personal injury claims have a lot of moving parts involved. You have the injury itself and any medical bills or lost wages associated with the injury. But then you also have emotional distress. It’s much easier to track expenses, but how can you know where to start when it comes to emotional distress? How can you put a value on emotions?
The term “emotional distress” can be subjective in nature, and putting a value on it can make it difficult. However, there are calculations for determining the value. Working with a Sacramento personal injury lawyer is the best way to go through the steps and help you get the compensation you are entitled to.
Emotional Distress in the Eyes of the Law
Another term for “emotional distress” is mental or emotional pain and suffering. A personal injury doesn’t just affect your physical health; it can also be detrimental to your mental and emotional well-being.
Most emotional distress effects include emotions like these:
California law defines emotional distress as occurring from “intentional or negligent behaviors.” This means that it was caused by unreasonable, careless, or negligent behavior that resulted in the injury and distress.
Emotional distress allows you to receive compensation for issues that occurred as a direct side effect of the injury, including expenses like therapy or mental health treatment and medication.
Putting a Value on Emotional Distress
Each state can make its own laws regarding personal injury cases and creating claims for things like emotional distress. Some states have a specified formula or even assigned values for certain things. However, California does not have a set procedure in place to put a value on emotional well-being. The lawyer working your case will choose a method that is reasonable but still gets you the compensation you deserve.
Most lawyers use a method known as the multiplier method. The multiplier method takes a value from economic damages and then uses a selected multiplier to increase those damages. The multiplier is typically anywhere from 1.5 to 5.
Some of the details that will determine the multiplier used include:
- Severity of injuries
- Length of emotional distress
- Severity of emotional distress
- Actions, behavior, and intent of the defendant
- Any provided evidence
The judge and jury will typically choose the multiplier based on these details. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine damages and build your case to bring to the court for compensation purposes.
Part of the case for emotional distress claims will include any treatment, so treatment records and testimony from family and friends can be helpful for your case.
Making a Strong Claim for Emotional Distress
Emotional distress can be far more challenging to prove or create a strong case for since it is subjective in nature. It involves non-economic damages, so applying a value makes it that much more difficult to build your claim. This is why using an experienced attorney is recommended.
Use these tips to help build a stronger claim.
If you experienced, or are experiencing, emotional distress and any of the emotions we shared above, you should seek treatment. Seeking treatment is a clear indicator that you truly are experiencing distress. You can use therapy, psychiatry, outpatient programs, or even inpatient treatment, depending on your needs.
Seeking treatment supports the claim of your distress and establishes the truth of its existence.
Cause of Distress
Claiming emotional distress is one thing, but you also need to be able to establish that the distress was caused by the personal injury. It will be important to establish the cause of your emotional distress and be able to show that it is related to the defendant’s actions, or lack thereof.
Things like videos or testimonies can establish how you were before the injury and how you changed following the injury. Professionals in the mental health or medical field may also be able to help establish the cause.
It’s a good idea to keep a personal journal of your feelings and emotions and what triggers them. In addition, you should always retain documentation for any treatment or diagnoses related to this emotional distress. Your journal can track things like anxiety, shame, guilt, and overall mental well-being.
Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney
Emotional distress may be hard to value, but that doesn’t mean its value is nonexistent. It’s easy to seek claims for physical and economic damages, but you should also receive compensation for your mental and emotional health related to the injury as well. Hire a skilled Sacramento personal injury lawyer to help you work through the claims process and build a strong case to get the compensation you deserve.