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Can You Make a Claim For “Emotional Distress” In an Auto Accident Case?

April 12, 2021 – David W. Foley – Motor Vehicle Accidents

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Most Colorado residents realize that they can file a lawsuit against the person who struck to potentially recover compensation for their medical bills and other accident-related expenses. They often don’t realize that there are different types of damages, such as compensation for their emotional distress, that they may also be able to recover.

Victims who suffer some of the most severe injuries in a wreck are generally the ones to file emotional distress claims. How much a plaintiff may be able to recover varies by case.

What is emotional distress?

Emotional distress is a form of pain and suffering that often falls into the mental anguish category of damages.

While headaches resulting from an accident wouldn’t generally fall under the definition of emotional distress, a victim’s insomnia, depression, anguish, torment, anxiety or humiliation might. Victims must generally prove several different elements to have a valid claim, including that their emotional distress:

  • Isn’t temporary or fleeting
  • The defendant’s conduct caused the distress
  • There’s documentation of the emotional distress available

Some jurisdictions may also require plaintiffs to correlate their emotional stress to a specific physical injury to have a valid claim.

Understanding and proving liability for your claim

If there’s one thing that you should know about auto accidents, it’s that the burden falls on a victim’s shoulders to prove liability in such cases. Proving liability is never easy. Establishing a connection between the emotional distress you may be feeling and injuries you suffered in a car accident may be quite challenging.

An attorney will want to know more about your accident before advising you of the challenges you may face in putting up an emotional distress claim in your case.

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