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Emotional Trauma: The Overlooked Aspect of Personal Injury

In Indiana, after you’ve suffered personal injury in an accident, you’re likely to seek medical attention and treatment. However, you may feel that it’s quicker to either dismiss the emotional trauma you’ve endured or just deal with it on your own. 

Nevertheless, any accident can create significant damage to your psyche, and you may need support while navigating through the aftermath of your initial injuries.

A woman looking distressed while conversing with her lawyer

Car accidents, slip and falls, and workplace accidents — regardless of how severe or minor — are scary, shocking events. Two tons of metal screeching toward you, a dramatic fall, or equipment failure can all leave an indelible emotional mark. 

Emotional trauma can be an overlooked aspect of personal injury. However, when it is suffered at the fault of another, like all types of personal injury it deserves compensation.  

Let’s take a look at the following questions and how they can impact the compensation you might receive for your emotional trauma:

  • Legally, what is considered emotional trauma? 
  • How can emotional trauma impact your overall health?
  • How can you file an insurance claim for the psychological impact of your accident? 
  • How can a personal injury lawyer help?   

The legal definition of emotional trauma   

In legal terms, emotional trauma (better known as emotional distress) refers to the emotional or mental suffering experienced as a result of personal injury. Although emotional distress is often linked to life-changing physical injuries, it can be experienced on its own as well.

Emotional trauma can lead to many symptoms including:

  • Anxiety — Memories of your accident may cause you to feel panic and experience physical symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and sweaty palms.
  • Depression — Your accident may zap your enjoyment of life, cause numbness or overwhelming sadness, and may greatly impair your ability to perform daily activities.
  • Memory Loss — The trauma you’ve endured may cause short- or long-term memory loss. Although memory loss is often a symptom of a physical traumatic brain injury (TBI), it can occur as a result of emotional distress too.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)You may feel like you’re reliving the suffering you endured in your accident and find that subtle triggers put you into a physical and emotional tailspin. PTSD can prevent you from fully healing and the ability to live your life.
  • Physical Illness — Emotional trauma can even lead to stress and persistent physical ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that stress can cause a variety of life-threatening illnesses, and the physical impact of emotional trauma can vary from person to person.

It’s important to remember that if you feel adverse, emotional symptoms as a result of your accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Your trauma may impact you differently than others who may have suffered in similar circumstances — this doesn’t invalidate your struggles.

A lawyer giving legal advice to a couple who are going through emotional trauma

How a personal injury lawyer can help

Emotional trauma is hard to prove, yet it can be a valid and significant result of any type of accident. You don’t need the added stress of navigating through the legal system or dealing with reluctant insurance companies on your own. A personal injury lawyer can explore the merits of your case and support you in your claim.

A personal injury lawyer can help you:

  • File Legal Paperwork — Take charge of any necessary paperwork and ensure it’s filed by mandated deadlines.
  • Gather Evidence — Collect evidence that proves your emotional distress, including documentation from medical professionals and any work time you’ve lost as a result of your mental anguish.
  • Obtain Witness Testimony — A personal injury lawyer can contact expert witnesses and call on your loved ones or co-workers who can testify to the emotional transformation and struggles you’ve endured since your accident.
  • Negotiate on Your Behalf — If an insurance company is willing to enter into negotiations with you, a personal injury lawyer can represent you in meetings and calculate the amount of the settlement you seek.
  • Fight for You in Court — If you can’t come to a settlement agreement with the at-fault party and your case goes to court, the right personal injury lawyer will fight for the justice you deserve.

When to file an emotional distress claim

Emotional trauma falls under the larger personal injury umbrella of pain and suffering. Thus, it’s considered a non-economic damage: This means that emotional distress settlements aren’t based on quantifiable, flat economic costs, but are up to the discretion of the insurance company or the courts.

Although some insurance companies do include emotional distress in their policy coverage, many emotional trauma claims are filed as lawsuits. So when should you include emotional distress in your insurance claim, and when should you file suit?     

Including emotional distress in your insurance claim

Most insurance companies and coverage policies (including those in Indiana) have a time window in which you need to file a personal injury claim. However, the traumatic impact of emotional distress may take awhile to make its presence known. Make sure you check with the policyholder’s insurer in order to file your claim on time.

If you feel as though your emotional health may have been adversely impacted by your accident, it’s important to quickly seek psychological attention. Although a psychological professional may not be able to give you an immediate diagnosis, they can provide documentation to prove you’ve sought treatment.

Indiana Statute of Limitations 

In Indiana, under state law IC § 34-11-2-4, all personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years from the date of your accident. Exceptions may be made for those who were minors or mentally impaired at the onset of their injuries.

If you choose to file a lawsuit based on the emotional trauma you’ve suffered as the result of another’s negligence, your personal injury lawyer can help you estimate the impact of your emotional injuries on the rest of your life. Thus, a judge or jury may award non-economic damages based on your ongoing pain and suffering.

When you should file a lawsuit  

If an insurance company has rejected your emotional distress claim, you may feel like they’re invalidating your trauma. At this point, it may be wise to contact a personal injury lawyer to help guide you through the steps to file a lawsuit and to explore the merits of your case.

A woman being consoled while crying

Contact Yosha Law

After an accident, emotional trauma can create turmoil in every area of your life. You shouldn’t have to pick up the pieces on your own. You need a personal injury team you can trust to stand in your corner.

At Yosha Law, our clients are members of our extended family, and we care about the individual aspects of each case. We know how tough and disruptive emotional distress can become, and we’re here to help you. We can explore the merits of your claim and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.  

Contact us today to set up a consultation and check out our blog for more legal tips and insights.

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