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Compensation for Emotional Injuries After A Car Accident In California

Psychological injuries like PTSD are common injuries following a catastrophic accident.

depressed man on a bench with emotional injuries

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a catastrophic car accident, it is vital that you seek medical attention as soon as you can. The sooner you seek medical help the better your chances are to prevent complications with recovery and other serious health problems. Depending on the severity of the injuries, the victim may have to undergo prolonged and extensive treatment and rehabilitation. While physical injuries are serious and require urgent care, attention should also be given to the victim’s psychological well-being. As a result of traumatic injuries physically, this can also lead to reoccurring psychological damages that many people do not take into account. It is common for victims to have mental issues versus physical issues in car accidents in California.

What Are The Psychological Effects of Car Accident Injuries?

  • Disabilities and impairments: Severe physical injuries to the head or brain can cause a wide variety of impairments. These disabilities can limit a victim’s ability to work or care for themselves and their families. Even if these impairments are temporary, not being able to earn a living and having to depend on others can leave the victim emotionally distressed.
  • Physical Pain: Sometimes an injury after a car accident can cause permanent chronic pain. Living with this constant pain every single day can have psychological effects on a victim and may lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
  • Scarring and disfigurement: Disfigurement can cause anxiety and depression due to a changed physical appearance and can also cause social anxiety and associated fears.

What Is Emotional Pain And Suffering?

A form of emotional pain and suffering is known as Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can develop following any kind of traumatic event in which a victim sustains serious physical injuries or emotional trauma. Car accidents are sudden and violent events that can cause chain reaction collisions, rolling over, being trapped inside the car, or other situations that are extremely traumatic. Studies have shown that nearly 9 percent of motor vehicle accident victims suffer from PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event.
  • Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects, and situations that bring on distressing memories.
  • Negative thoughts and feelings may include ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; or feeling detached or estranged from others.
  • Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being easily startled, or having problems concentrating or sleeping.

In California, a large number of car accident victims with PTSD also suffer from major depression, mood disorders, and severe phobias. These symptoms adversely affect the victim’s personal and work life. The victim may require a significant amount of therapy and medication to recover from the condition. Recovery doesn’t have to be alone and scary. Krasney Law is here to help you get the compensation you deserve and to give legal advice every step of the way.

California witnesses nearly 200,000 car accidents annually where the occupants sustain minor to severe injuries. This excludes minor accidents, fatal accidents and those that go unreported. 

Statistics like the one above make car accidents seem normal, common, and inevitable—a tough break. But when you or your loved one are the injured party, things become a lot more real. 

Bills start pouring in and work starts piling as you try to recover and move on from the trauma of surviving a major accident. You start to wonder if this is fair. 

No, it is not fair. As a victim of an auto accident, you are eligible for fair compensation. It includes physical damages, property damages and even emotional distress among others. 

Yes. In California, the state accepts emotional distress and suffering as grounds for compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. 

Read on to learn how to claim compensation for emotional injuries after a car accident. 

What is emotional distress?

Emotional distress is the psychological or mental pain experienced as a response to an event or its memory. 

As a victim of an auto accident, you or your loved one may suffer from anxiety and depression—the most common symptoms of emotional distress.

Emotional distress is not always temporary. The pain, the agony, the fear and anxiety—it could linger and hinder you from performing your daily tasks and resuming normal work. 

Causing an array of mild to severe symptoms, emotional distress can result in financial troubles, relationship issues or mental health disorders. 

Symptoms of emotional distress

  • Depression
  • Irritability/ prolonged agitation
  • Change in diet/ appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of sleep/ Insomnia
  • Anger outbursts
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Withdrawal or losing interest in daily activities
  • Sleep deprivation/ Change in sleep patterns
  • Physical symptoms like endless fatigue, headaches, stomach pain etc. 
  • Feeling hopeless, powerless or guilty
  • Overpowering fear, panic triggered by recollection of accident

The above list is not exhaustive, and your symptoms may differ. Consult with your doctor to get a thorough examination and a verified report of your symptoms. This will help file damages against the at-fault party. 

Coping with emotional distress

How do you recover and recuperate? Healing is a long-drawn process and giving yourself the time to overcome it is imperative. 

  1. Accept and acknowledge the pain
  2. Positive refocusing 
  3. Seek support of medical practitioners

Types of emotional distress

You can experience transitory emotional distress or severe distress that requires medical intervention. Both these conditions are acceptable grounds for seeking compensation. 

Let’s look at the different types of emotional distress for which you can seek compensation.

  1. General pain and suffering

Frustration and distress over the changed dynamic in your life, sadness and self-pity, embarrassment over scars etc. 

  1. Anxiety/Panic disorders

Repeated and periodic bouts of intense fear, panic disproportionate to the situation. Could be triggered due to a memory or recollection of the traumatic accident. 

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Severe mental health condition triggered by experiencing a traumatic experience. After deadly crashes, surviving victims can undergo PTSD symptoms like nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, emotional distress etc. 

  1. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

When the at-fault party caused the damage through recklessness and negligence. E.g. DUI, using phone while driving etc. 

  1. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

When the at-fault party caused intentional damage due to vengeance or any other deliberate reason for causing harm to the victim. 

How can I sue for emotional injuries’ compensation?

Time can heal your wounds, but it can’t pay your bills. The effective way of seeking compensation is by filing a lawsuit. 

If you or your loved one a car accident, inform the police and your insurance company first. This should help you get started with treatment. 

Your next step should be contacting a personal injury attorney who can start the settlement process by filing a lawsuit and begin gathering evidence against the at-fault party. 

Your lawyer will use documents like your medical records, hospital bills, prescription bills, statements from families, personal diary etc. to build the case. 

Without sufficient evidence, compensation for severe emotional distress is impossible. Call your San Bernardino lawyer as soon as possible to help collect crucial evidence to absolve you of fault.

Lawsuits for claiming emotional distress can be technical and challenging as it is hard to articulate it and provide due evidence. Only an expert attorney can gather documentation and build a case on your behalf for your rightful claim. 

What can I be compensated for? 

Filing a compensation lawsuit after a car accident makes you eligible to seek damages for economic and non-monetary losses. 

Economic losses include medical bills, doctor consultations, prescriptions, assistive devices, physical therapies, operative costs, loss of pay etc. 

Non-monetary losses include pain, suffering, grief, anxiety, emotional distress, loss of bodily organ/function, loss of normal life, chronic fear etc. 

Economic losses can be easily claimed using the appropriate bills and records, but the non-economic losses are hard to put a price on. Your personal injury lawyer will ensure that all emotional damages are accounted for and included in your lawsuit. 

How much money will I be compensated for emotional distress? 

Here in San Bernardino, California, there isn’t a fixed amount of compensation for emotional distress. Depending on the case and the evidence in hand, the judge and jury will dole out the compensation. 

The actual compensation may vary based on a number of factors like:

  • Severity of injury
  • Medical bills and other monetary losses
  • Evidence in hand
  • Recklessness of defendant
  • Medical reports
  • Determining the percentage of fault of the involved parties

To paint a complete picture of your injuries and the extent of suffering, your personal injury lawyer has to build a strong case.  They will use your medical records, evidence, statements from families, accident reports etc. 

Recovering Compensation for Emotional Injuries In California

A qualified attorney will help you get adequate and fair compensation for all your troubles and sufferings. We, at Krasney Law, believe that victims should not be punished further for their misfortune, instead should be rightfully compensated. Call our car accident lawyers now to help you get your fair compensation!

Medical bills for physical injuries aren’t the worst of your worries following a traumatic car accident. Treatment for psychological disorders can be extensive and may last a long time. Recovery could mean using the help of a psychologist and even consistent therapy. You may need help recovering compensation to cover the costs of treatment and therapy. Call our personal injury lawyers at (909) 380-7200 for a free consultation.


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