A car accident in Nevada can leave a victim with emotional distress that lingers long after the physical injuries have healed. Even relatively minor car accidents can be frightening, leading to anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and other emotional consequences. Chronic emotional distress can interfere with nearly every aspect of a person’s life.
If severe emotional distress is harming your quality of life and ability to work after a Nevada car accident, you may consider holding the at-fault driver accountable. In addition to seeking reimbursement for your medical bills and other financial losses, a personal injury lawsuit may demand compensation for emotional distress and the effects it has on your life. Nevada personal injury law allows payment for emotional distress. However, proving emotional distress in court can be difficult without the help of an experienced attorney.
At Sam & Ash Injury Law, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers are ready to help you evaluate your legal options and move forward after the disruption of a serious car accident. We believe that when someone does you wrong, you deserve What’s Right. That includes fair compensation for physical injuries, emotional distress, and other losses. Contact us today for a free case review with a Nevada car accident lawyer. We’ll help you understand the best way forward.
What Is Emotional Distress?
The term emotional distress describes an inner state of emotional suffering. Emotional distress can take different forms.
Common symptoms of emotional distress include:
- Overwhelming feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt or worry with no apparent source
- Difficulty thinking, remembering, or completing daily tasks
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased reliance on alcohol or other mood-altering substances
- Changes in appetite, mood, or level of social interaction
- New, unexplained sources of physical pain
Most people experience bouts of emotional distress at some point in their lives. But when people live through highly traumatic events such as car accidents, emotional distress can linger and get in the way of everyday life.
In the context of a personal injury case, emotional distress refers to the emotional injuries you suffer because of someone’s negligent actions. For instance, following a car wreck, you might experience fear of driving, depression, severe insomnia, or flashbacks of the accident. If your emotional distress persists well after the accident and interferes with your well-being, you may seek counseling and medical care to cope. You have the right to pursue compensation from the at-fault motorist to cover the cost of your medical treatment.
Types of Emotional Distress
Common types of emotional distress resulting from car accidents include:
- Anxiety– Anxiety is an intense fear or nervousness that lingers even when no immediate danger exists. Chronic anxious feelings might indicate an anxiety disorder, which can interfere with concentration, sleep, digestion, and other facets of life. Traumatic events such as car accidents can cause anxiety disorders or ongoing fears of driving.
- Panic attacks and panic disorder– Panic attacks and panic disorders are a side effect of extreme anxiety, which can occur after a terrifying experience like a car wreck. Panic attacks often produce symptoms such as chest pains, shortness of breath, elevated heartbeat, and overwhelming terror. People suffering from a panic attack might feel petrified with fear or worry that they are about to die.
- Depression– Depression is more than just intense sadness. It’s a mood disorder that causes overwhelming feelings of helplessness, sadness, and a general loss of interest in life. A traumatic car accident and its aftereffects can trigger depression, a potentially debilitating condition that must be taken seriously.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)– PTSD can affect anyone who experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. PTSD is a type of severe anxiety disorder that often involves flashbacks – vivid mental recreations that cause people with PTSD to relive their traumatic events. One recent study suggests more than one in five car accident survivors has PTSD.
Types of Lawsuits
There are two legal concepts that can be the basis of a claim for emotional distress after a car accident. They are negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED).
Negligent infliction of emotional distress occurs when a careless driver causes a crash and unintentionally causes a victim to suffer mental distress or anguish. Emotional distress often arises from accidents involving physical injuries. But a person who suffered emotional distress as a result of witnessing a traumatic accident also may pursue a claim. For instance, someone who witnesses a family member die in a car accident caused by another driver may seek compensation for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when a defendant intentionally or recklessly causes a victim emotional distress. Most car accidents are unintentional, but in rare circumstances, a driver might purposely cause an accident to harm or intimidate another person.
Proving the infliction of emotional distress can be tricky, especially if you didn’t sustain serious physical injuries in a crash. The skilled injury lawyers at Sam & Ash Injury Law know the types of evidence to seek to develop a persuasive case for compensation if you have suffered emotional distress from a car accident caused by another motorist.
Emotional Distress Damages
Emotional distress damages are a type of non-economic damages. Mental distress is not quantifiable in the way that lost wages or medical expenses are measurable. Nevada does not limit non-economic damages in injury claims, except those involving malpractice.
The value of your emotional distress damages might vary depending on the following:
- The severity of the accident
- The severity of your physical injuries
- The types and amounts of evidence you present
- How long you experience emotional distress
- The severity of the emotional distress
- Any pre-existing mental health conditions
An experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney at Sam & Ash Injury Law will seek evidence to show all the ways that emotional distress has adversely affected your life following a car crash.
Compensation for Emotional Trauma
Calculating the value of a monetary award for emotional trauma is difficult because of the subjective nature of emotional injuries. When courts calculate non-economic damages for emotional distress, they typically use one of two methods.
The most common method is called the multiplier method. The multiplier method starts with the value of your economic damages – the compensation you receive for all your measurable losses, such as your medical expenses – and multiplies it by a number, usually between 1.5 and 5. The product is how much you could receive in total damages. Courts typically use higher multipliers in cases involving more severe injuries.
Another less common method is the per diem method, which assigns a dollar value to every day you must live with the emotional distress from the accident. The dollar value is based on the amount you would earn from a typical day’s work. With the per diem method, the dollar value is multiplied by the number of days you suffer from emotional distress.
Proving Emotional Distress in a Car Accident Case
If you are suing someone for emotional distress after a car accident, your attorney will need to gather several types of evidence to prove emotional distress. It is challenging to prove emotional distress if you don’t have physical injuries.
Your attorney might use the following types of evidence to support your case:
- Documentation of mental health treatments or therapy
- Testimony from treating therapists or other providers
- Records of prescription medications for emotional issues such as depression or anxiety
- Documentation of missed work or school
- Medical records and testimony from medical experts
- Testimony from those who know you personally
- Entries from a journal documenting your recovery
When Is Emotional Distress Considered a Personal Injury?
Most emotional distress lawsuits stem from physical injuries, but some individuals might have grounds to sue for emotional distress even if they did not suffer physical harm. Nevada law allows for emotional distress lawsuits without bodily injury in the form of claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress or negligent infliction of emotional distress. With either of these types of claims, your emotional distress alone is the personal injury for which you seek compensation.
Contact a Compassionate Car Accident Attorney in Las Vegas, NV
If you or someone close to you is suffering from emotional trauma after a Las Vegas car accident, get in touch with Sam & Ash Injury Law. When you come to us for help after a crash, our compassionate attorneys get to know you personally. We want to understand the challenges you are facing as a result of your injury and what you need to overcome them. We can handle every aspect of your legal case while you focus on healing. Our team can evaluate your case and determine whether you might be owed compensation for emotional distress. Contact our compassionate car accident attorneys in Las Vegas, NV, today to get started with a free, no-obligation consultation.