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emotional distress

When Can You Sue For Emotional Distress in Los Angeles?

When someone else is responsible for causing your serious injury following an accident, they can be compelled to compensate you for your damages when you pursue legal action against them. One of the most impactful damages injury victims report is emotional distress. 

However, you may be unsure when you have the right to sue for emotional distress and how much you can be awarded for this loss. With help from our experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at West Coast Trial Lawyers, you can get the most out of your claim and bring the liable party to justice.

How California Defines Emotional Distress

Emotional distress is also defined as “mental anguish.” This occurs as a result of an individual purposefully engaging in an intentional behavior that causes severe pain onto another. The aggrieved individual is then left with mental or emotional health issues. These issues may be exhibited by feelings of:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Stress
  • Humiliation
  • Insomnia
  • Guilt
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse

Emotional distress is most commonly seen among those who are 18 years old and older. Women are far more likely to experience serious psychological distress compared to men. Lastly, the most common races to experience mental anguish are in order:

  • Hispanic-Americans
  • African-Americans
  • White Americans

Common Accidents and Incidents that Cause Emotional Distress 

Additionally, emotional distress may be associated with adults who experience injuries from:

  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Brain Injuries 
  • Burn Injuries
  • Car Accidents
  • Dog Bites
  • Motorcycle Accidents 
  • Paralysis
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Premises Liability
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Truck Accidents
  • Uber & Lyft Accidents
  • Wrongful Death 

If you are dealing with emotional distress because of a personal injury, you are entitled damages for your pain and suffering. Mental injury can result from the actions of another person, whether intentionally or accidentally. Due to this reason, damages for emotional distress were created to allow victims to recover compensation for their pain and suffering.

When Can You Sue for Emotional Distress in Los Angeles?

It may not always be clear when you have the right to pursue a claim for emotional distress in Los Angeles. Many people are quick to assume that their injury, illness, or medical condition must be life-threatening or catastrophic to warrant legal action. 

However, this is not the case. You may have the right to pursue insurance or civil claims for emotional distress following an accident in Los Angeles when someone else is responsible for causing your condition. As previously mentioned, there are many ways in which these accidents and incidents can occur. However, your attorney will need to show that the four elements of negligence have been met as follows:

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

Here, your lawyer will be responsible for showing that the defendant owed you a duty of care. They must have breached that duty of care in some way, thereby causing you to suffer considerable damages. This is another area in which many injury victims have concerns. They worry that since their injuries may not be considered life-threatening, their damages may not be regarded as valid. 

However, when someone else is responsible for your injury or condition, you have the right to be made whole. This means you should be compensated for every single loss you have suffered as a result of your emotional distress. Your lawyer can go over your damages in detail to determine what your claim is worth.

How the Personal Injury Claims Process Works

Another common reason people suffering from emotional distress hesitate to call a lawyer for help is because they are intimidated by what they believe is a complicated personal injury claims process. However, when you have an experienced legal advocate on your side, you can move forward with your case with confidence. 

To give you a better idea of what to expect as you move forward with your personal injury claim, here is a basic idea of the claims process for emotional distress:

  • You hire a lawyer to take on your case
  • Your attorney opens up an investigation into the cause of the accident
  • Your lawyer begins to gather the evidence needed to support your case
  • The evidence obtained reveals who is responsible for your emotional distress damages
  • Your lawyer reviews your damages to ascertain the value of your claim
  • Once you know what your claim is worth, you can file a claim with the insurance company or in civil court, depending on the details of your case and the type of accident you were involved in
  • Your lawyer will then handle the negotiations process with the insurance company
  • If you are unable to secure a reasonable settlement through the insurance company, your attorney will be prepared to bring your case to trial
  • In court, your lawyer will be responsible for proving liability based on a preponderance of the evidence to secure a favorable outcome in your case

It is important to keep in mind that every person’s case is different. If two people suffer emotional distress following an accident, the ways in which they go about recovering compensation can vary widely depending on the specific details of their case. If you are interested in learning more about what to expect from your emotional distress injury claim, be sure to contact an attorney for guidance and support.

Evidence to Support Emotional Distress

If your injury results in you filing a personal injury lawsuit, it’s likely that you’ll be seeking medical treatment. When discussing your symptoms with your doctor, please include both physical and psychological injuries that took place after the incident. 

Medically-documented emotional distress is an essential component to implement in your personal injury case. It’s important to keep a journal or diary to record how your emotions have been affected and the ways these changes have impacted your lifestyle. Having detailed evidence of your situation will strengthen your claim and likelihood of recovery.

To show proof of the negative after effects of a personal injury resulting in emotional distress, you must provide evidence to back up your case. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Photographs of dents in a car from a rear-end hit. 
  • Broken stairs that contributed to your fall.
  • Torn clothes to show the level of severity of harm inflicted.
  • Defective car parts resulting in a car accident, such as a tire exploding or brakes not working. 

Physical evidence that is not recorded or photographed in the days following an accident may get lost or altered as time passes by. It is always best to note or photograph all proof as soon as possible. 

Below is detailed information on how to provide evidence of emotional distress to help with your claim:

Mental Health Records

Your mental health professional can write a statement with their evaluation of your mental and emotional condition. They may also verify the type of mental illness(es) you are suffering from such as:

  • Panic Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

Witness Statements

Ask those around you, whether it be your loved ones, co-workers, employer, or friends, for written statements to confirm that they were a witness to the treatment you suffered and any emotional distress you’ve experienced. They may have noticed the dramatic change in the way you’ve been acting and can help support your claim.

Using a Journal or Diary

Write detailed notes about the actions that caused you to suffer the emotional distress and how you’ve been feeling ever since the event took place. Ideal topics to mention could be:

  • Daily pain levels
  • Sleeping problems
  • Having nightmares

Compensation for Victims of Emotional Distress

It’s difficult to configure a price point on damages for emotional distress. If your claim happens to go to trial, the jury will decide on the exact amount. 

There are specific factors that will influence what amount you may be awarded, which include the level of emotional distress you have suffered or if the emotional distress you are dealing with is either temporary or permanent.

Economic and Non-Economic Damages

If someone else is responsible for causing your injury or illness, you have the right to be made whole. This means you should be compensated for every way your life has been affected by your injuries. Emotional distress can have a devastating impact on your life. You may be surprised to find out that you can be awarded compensation for both economic and non-economic damages

Economic damages are monetary. They have a fixed financial value and are easy to quantify by comparing receipts, bank records, pay stubs, and other financial documents. Some of the most commonly awarded types of economic damages for emotional distress include:

  • Loss of income
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Costs of mental health counseling
  • Medical expenses and equipment fees
  • Costs of prescription medications
  • Unexpected child care expenses
  • Cost of household upkeep and maintenance

Non-economic damages are a little different. They do not have a monetary value, and they are more difficult to quantify. To determine how much they are worth, your attorney will need to figure out how impactful your non-economic damages have been. With that in mind, some of the more frequently awarded types of non-economic damages for emotional distress include:

  • Diminished quality of life
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Inconvenience
  • Reputational damage
  • Loss of consortium

These are just a few of the more common types of economic and not economic damages you could recoup as part of your insurance or civil claims for emotional distress. If you are interested in learning how much your damages are worth, be sure to contact our office to discuss your losses in greater detail.

Punitive Damages for Emotional Distress 

It is more common than you might think for people suffering from emotional distress to wonder whether they could collect punitive damages in their case. There are many misconceptions surrounding punitive damages. However, under the law, punitive damages are only awarded when the judge or jury finds the defendant’s actions grossly negligent, egregious, or reprehensible. 

Punitive damages are designed to punish the liable party beyond the victim’s compensatory losses. With that being said, if the judge finds the defendant’s actions in your case to be abhorrent, you may be awarded punitive damages in your case. However, it is important that you do not expect to be awarded punitive damages, as these are not a loss you have the right to recover in your emotional distress claim.

When You Need an Attorney

If you have been suffering from emotional distress after a personal injury and are making the decision of bringing a lawsuit against the individual at fault, it’s important to seek legal guidance from a trusted personal injury attorney from West Coast Trial Lawyers.

Our personal injury attorneys can protect your rights when the insurance company uses factors against you, such as pre-existing mental health issues. If you have suffered emotional distress because of an injury, you deserve the best legal service from our skilled team of personal injury attorneys.

When you find yourself struggling to cover the costs of your mental health counseling, are burdened by considerable medical expenses, or have found that your quality of life has dramatically increased since you were diagnosed with emotional distress caused by someone else, it is imperative to get a legal advocate on your side. 

You can access the compensation you are entitled to, which can get you the financial assistance you need to get through these difficult times. Although no one out of compensation will change what you have been through, it may ease your burden as you attempt to rebuild your life following the accident.

What Does It Cost To Hire an Attorney in Los Angeles?

People suffering from emotional distress and other types of injuries following an accident often wonder how they are going to pursue their case when they cannot afford to hire an attorney. However, the majority of respected Los Angeles emotional distress lawyers will be willing to work with injury victims on contingency. 

Here, you will not be expected to cover any upfront or out-of-pocket costs. Instead, your lawyer will take on the financial responsibility of pursuing your case. This might include covering any court fees, filing fees, costs of hiring expert witnesses, and other miscellaneous expenses. 

Then, once your lawyer produces a favorable outcome in your case, a portion of your injury settlement will be used to cover your attorney’s fees. Your contingency agreement will go over the percentage of your winnings that will go to your lawyer as payment for their services. 

The good news is that when you work with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer on contingency, there is little risk. Your attorney will absorb most of the financial risk that comes with pursuing your case. If your lawyer does not secure an award in your case, you will not be expected to cover any costs.

Emotional Distress FAQ 

The personal injury claims process for emotional distress can be confusing. In the hopes of helping you understand what to expect as you move forward with your case and ease some of your worries, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding emotional distress claims below. 

If you have additional questions that were not answered here, be sure to reach out to our office so we can discuss your concerns in further detail.

Will I have to go to court?

It is possible that your case will have to go to court. For some people, obtaining an injury settlement through the insurance company may make it possible to avoid bringing your case to court. However, there are many situations in which insurance companies are unwilling or unable to cover emotional distress damages in full. 

In fact, many insurance companies are only willing to provide compensation for certain types and amounts of economic losses. If you hope to get the most out of your claim, your best option may be to bring your case to court. Your attorney can give you a better idea of whether you may need to go before a judge after closely reviewing the individual details of your case.

What if my child suffers emotional distress?

Children can be uniquely affected by emotional distress. Their emotional distress now could have a lasting impact on their lives for years to come. With this in mind, if your child has suffered emotional distress caused by someone else, you may have the right to bring that party to justice. 

Your child has the right to be compensated when another party’s misconduct or negligence causes them emotional distress or other injury or illness. As their parent or legal guardian, you have a responsibility to advocate for their rights. With help from an emotional distress attorney, you can help your child secure the compensation they deserve for their suffering.

How long do you have to file your claim for emotional distress?

If you are interested in filing a lawsuit for emotional distress, it is important to act quickly. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in California is only two years. If your claim is not filed before the statute of limitations expires in your case, you will lose your opportunity to recover total compensation for your damages. 

The date the statute of limitations will run out in your case can vary widely. If you hope to avoid being barred from having your case heard in court, it is important to get an attorney on your case as soon as possible.

Should I accept an offer from the insurance company?

It is difficult to say whether you should accept an offer from the insurance company without having reviewed the offer. Your lawyer will need to examine any offers made by the insurance company before you accept. 

This is because many insurance companies will try to take advantage of injury victims by offering insultingly low settlements. Injury victims may be tempted to accept the offer when they need the money most. However, with help from an emotional distress attorney, you may be able to hold the insurance company accountable and maximize your compensation.

Get Help From a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer

Our qualified personal injury lawyers are highly-trained and have extensive experience with cases that are similar to yours. We are committed to helping you resolve your legal issues as quickly as possible while receiving the best results.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of emotional distress from an injury, reach out to our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at West Coast Trial Lawyers 24 hours a day. Schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation by calling us at (888) 679-1973 or completing our convenient contact form

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