Your emotional distress may not be as clearly visible as a broken bone or lacerations, but it may still be eligible for compensation after a car accident. However, you need to prove that it was something you experienced as a result of the accident and its economic value. Though it is harder to quantify, our team of car accident lawyers relies on several types of evidence– including medical records, diaries, and testimony– to prove an emotional distress claim.
Proving that you experienced emotional distress
Even though emotional suffering is subjective and not obvious to an outside observer, evidence of it can be captured in other places. Some possibilities include:
- Therapy records – If your distress led to visits with a mental health professional, billing records, and reports might document the effects of the accident.
- Medical records – Emotional pain and suffering may manifest in physical ways like insomnia, hives, and symptoms of anxiety. Records from doctor visits for these reasons lend credence to a claim.
- Diary – An ongoing record of how you are doing mentally and physically is more trustworthy than a statement after-the-fact, which can appear self-serving.
- Testimony – You may testify as to your own experience. It can also be helpful to have others testify on your behalf. A doctor or counselor may offer an expert opinion on how severe your symptoms are and when you are likely to be fully recovered. Family members or close friends may be able to attest to the changes they have seen in your life because of the accident.
Remember that a claim of emotional damage may open the door to invasive and even embarrassing questions. Discuss the pros and cons of the claim and potential evidence with your attorney. This will ensure you are prepared in the event the process becomes uncomfortable.
Proving the value of emotional damages
Placing a dollar amount on intangible losses like emotional distress is never straightforward. The cost of related medical and therapeutic treatment and medications may be a factor in your damages. However, the value of the mental anguish itself is not wholly captured by itemized medical bills.
Non-economic damages like emotional distress and physical pain and suffering are usually estimated based on several factors related to the severity of the accident. These factors may point to a multiplier, for example, three times the amount of medical bills. In that case, if your medical bills totaled $50,000, your non-economic damages could be valued at $150,000.
Calculating the claim
Insurance companies often skip the multiplier approach and instead rely on computer programs. These programs also factor in the severity of the accident and special circumstances, but they tend to undervalue claims. Your car accident lawyers in VA will advocate for your full compensation. They can do this by educating the insurance adjuster about areas where the programs may not accurately reflect your situation.
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