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What is Pain & Suffering in a Personal Injury Case?

Many people have heard the term “pain and suffering” as it pertains to personal injury, but very few understand what it means. There are two different classifications of pain and suffering: physical and mental. The physical aspect derives from the physical pain suffered in the accident, and the mental aspect refers to emotional distress or trauma.

Woman crying into her handsUnderstanding Emotional Distress

Emotional distress is defined as long-lasting mental or emotional damage after an injury or traumatic incident. This includes conditions such as anguish, humiliation, recurring nightmares, psychological conditions. PTSD is considered to be a form of emotional distress.

An emotional distress claim must show that the distress is more than temporary. The conduct from the defendant caused the distress. A medical expert is often brought in to evaluate and testify for the victim.

What is PTSD?

The term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was originally coined to describe the mental anguish suffered by Vietnam War veterans. It’s often characterized in personal injury cases by repeated and debilitating mental “flashbacks” of the injury or accident. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the trauma through recurring nightmares or thoughts throughout the day.

The American Family Physician Association released a study that indicated that developing post-traumatic stress after a car accident is relatively common. The study found that 43.5% of motor vehicle accident survivors with PTSD developed new major depressive episodes.

Signs of Emotional Distress After an Accident

Emotional distress can manifest themselves in many ways. Obsessive or distressing thoughts, nightmares, or radical change of behavior are all common signs and symptoms.

PTSD symptoms usually worsen over time. It can include loss of control, detachment from the world, memory/concentration problems, and even drug and/or alcohol abuse. It can have a crippling effect on a person’s mental state. This can lead to the loss of a job, depression, relationship issues, etc.

Proving Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering can be proven in a court of law through expert testimony, records of proof of treatment by a mental health professional, as well as the testimony of the plaintiff. While pain and suffering can be hard to prove, if ample evidence and convincing testimony are given, it will increase the chances of success.

There are no guidelines as to how pain and suffering damages are calculated. Mental anguish and the overall damage suffered can differ from person to person. The victim would need to be evaluated by a medical professional. They can determine the extent of the victim’s emotional distress. In addition, they can make an assessment as to how it will negatively affect them in the future.

Tacoma & Seattle Personal Injury Law Firm

Emotional distress can rob you of the quality of your life. It can cause significant financial harm to you and your loved ones. If you were involved in an accident or suffered an injury and think you might be suffering from emotional distress or PTSD, give us a call at (253) 472-6000 or schedule a free consultation.

One of our compassionate Tacoma injury attorneys will sit down with you, listen to your case, and advise you on the steps you can take to get the justice you deserve.