South Carolina recognizes that a person has the right to receive compensation for medical expenses and other financial losses after they suffer injuries in an accident due to another party’s negligence. Such losses may include medical expenses, lost income due to missed time at work, and property damage. However, many people do not realize that they may also be entitled to pursue compensation for the less tangible losses they experience due to a personal injury. Such claims can include compensation for the emotional distress that plagues accident victims for an extended time. Working with a knowledgeable and compassionate South Carolina personal injury attorney can fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is a broad term describing the adverse psychological effects of an event. In the context of personal injury law, it is sometimes also referred to as mental anguish. Following an accident, an individual may experience distress for several reasons, including:
- The shock and trauma of the accident
- The physical pain of their injuries
- The effects of disability or disfigurement on their capacity to work, participate in hobbies, or travel
- The consequences of the accident and injuries on their social life
- The feeling of injustice due to the at-fault party’s negligence
- The lack of emotion regulation due to a traumatic brain injury
- Survivor’s guilt, if they lost a loved one in the accident
Different Forms of Emotional Distress After an Accident
Each person responds differently to an accident, and the mental anguish they experience will differ as well. Some of the different forms of distress accident victims experience include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Phobias relating to the accident (e.g., being in cars, around dogs, or in hospitals)
Because each person’s experience is unique, emotional distress may manifest for you in a way that might not fit neatly into the above categories. Speaking with a knowledgeable South Carolina personal injury lawyer can help you understand whether you have a valid claim.
Types of Emotional Distress Claims
You can claim emotional distress in many different types of injury claims, including:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability
- Premises liability (slip-and-fall)
- Workplace accidents
- Construction accidents
- Dog bites
If you experience ongoing emotional distress following an accident, it is important to seek professional treatment. Working with a mental health provider like a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed therapist can help you process trauma and develop healthy coping strategies.
Seeking treatment serves two important purposes for an injury claim. First, it allows you to get the support you need so you can move forward after a traumatic event. Second, documentation of treatment lends credibility and evidence to emotional distress claims.
Calculating Compensation for Emotional Distress Claims in South Carolina
There is no set formula for calculating emotional distress claims in South Carolina. Factors that influence claim amounts may include:
- The severity and duration of emotional distress
- Ongoing need for therapy or psychiatric care
- Diagnosis of formal conditions like PTSD, depression, or anxiety
- Disruption to relationships or ability to work
- Aggravating factors like disfigurement or permanent disability
Claims can range from thousands of dollars for temporary distress to tens of thousands or more if severe, permanent psychiatric illness occurs. An experienced personal injury lawyer can assess the unique circumstances in your case and provide guidance on what reasonable compensation might be in your case.
How to Prove Emotional Distress
Proving emotional distress requires showing the at-fault party’s negligence directly caused your psychological suffering. Key evidence can include:
- Medical records indicating mental health treatment
- Testimony from therapists, psychiatrists, or psychologists
- Prescriptions for psychiatric medications
- Diagnosis of formal conditions like PTSD, phobias, or depression
- Documentation of nightmares, anxiety attacks, or changes in behavior
- Records tracking your emotional health before and after the accident
- Journals or written statements describing mental anguish
- Eyewitness accounts from friends and family regarding emotional changes
An attorney can work with mental health experts to gather the necessary evidence and demonstrate how your emotional struggles tie directly to the accident and injuries inflicted.
Contact an Experienced South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
Emotional distress can be challenging to measure, but its effect on your life can be enormous. If another party’s negligence has caused an accident that has led you to experience emotional distress, you have a right to hold them accountable for their wrongdoing.
The seasoned legal team at Murphy Crantford Meehan understands how challenging life can feel when you endure emotional upheaval after an accident. With more than 50 years of collective experience helping South Carolinians successfully fight for what they deserve, we have the resources and skills to help you, too. Contact us online or call us at (843) 396-3496 today for a free case review to learn more about your legal options.