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What is the difference Between Emotional Distress and Pain and Suffering after Car Accidents?

You’re likely familiar with physical pain if you’ve been in a car accident. But what about the emotional turmoil that follows?

In the aftermath of an accident, victims often grapple with two distinct types of unseen injuries: emotional distress and pain and suffering. But what’s the difference? Let’s take a deep dive into these murky legal waters. 

Regarding the law, emotional distress and pain and suffering are two terms that pop up often, but many people are unclear about their actual meanings, let alone their differences. Don’t fret. We’re here to illuminate these shadowy areas. 

What is Emotional Distress?

In general, pain and suffering refers to physical pain and emotional distress caused by an accident.

Under pain and suffering damages, emotional distress is when someone else’s actions cause you to experience mental harm, including humiliation, anguish, insomnia, torment, depression, and anxiety. Pains like body aches or headaches do not fall under emotional distress. 

To file claims for emotional distress, you must prove that the distress is not short-term, that the other party’s conduct resulted in the distress, and that the distress is medically important. In most states, you must also submit proof of injuries regarding your emotional pain. 

What is the Difference Between Emotional Distress and Pain and Suffering?

Legally, ‘pain and suffering’ are non-economic losses associated with a personal injury. This could include:

  • Disfigurement- Scars and other permanent damage signs caused by a car accident or resulting surgery.
  • Impairment of daily activities –Incapacity to enjoy the same daily activities as before the accident, such as family relationships to hobbies.

Emotional distress falls under the “pain and suffering” umbrella, which may or may not be associated with actual physical injuries.

This form of grief can result from the original accident, the injuries sustained, the recovery process, and the fact that an individual may never be able to live the same way. 

Emotional distress damages focus on how one is impacted emotionally, not physically. Even though physical injuries can lead to emotional distress and mental harm, they do not fall under emotional distress damage. 

Proving Emotional Distress after a Car Accident

If you are planning to pursue a lawsuit for emotional distress following a car accident, taking into account the following factors will play a major role in proving the claim:

  • The duration of the distress 
  • The severity of the distress from which you are struggling
  • Any related harm caused to the body 
  • Health records from your physician documenting your mental symptoms and the treatment prescribed. For instance, medications, mental health counseling, talk therapy, meditation, and mindfulness in personal injury recovery. 
  • The original cause of the emotional pain 

Before solidifying your personal injury claim, you must present substantial evidence. This can include:

  • Medical records: Medical records allow authorities to judge the symptoms of emotional distress and any prescribed treatments.
  • Reports from physicians: If you have received psychiatric or medical treatment for your emotional distress, your doctors may be asked to provide expert opinions on how the accident has impacted you emotionally and physically.
  • Photos from the accident scene: Claims about experiencing or witnessing significant trauma must be supplemented with pictures of the accident. This visual evidence plays a vital role in substantiating your claims. They can illustrate the severity of the situation, providing a tangible, hard-to-dispute record of the conditions at the scene.  Not only can these photos help to show the seriousness of the injury sustained or witnessing someone else suffer. They can also clearly demonstrate the accident’s impact on the surrounding environment. This could be crucial in showing how intense the accident was, possibly implying a higher level of emotional distress or pain and suffering caused by the accident.
  • Videos of the accident: Videos are critical evidence in personal injury cases because they provide a clear, objective event record. They can definitively show what happened, who was at fault, and the impact of the collision, all of which can be instrumental in proving liability and the extent of damages. This evidence can significantly strengthen your claim for emotional distress, pain, and suffering by corroborating your account of the accident and the resulting injuries.  

But what if you’re injured while traveling abroad? The rules and processes may differ. For more information on this, check out this helpful guide.

Expert Testimony and Statements from Witnesses 

Besides providing evidence, you might also be able to solidify your case using witness statements and expert testimonies. These can include:

  • Eyewitnesses who saw the accident and tried to help you after the accident.
  • Medical field experts examined you and confirmed severe physical injuries and emotional damage due to the accident.
  • Professionals in vocational training or economics will explain how your emotional distress or physical injuries prevent you from doing daily activities.

Final Thoughts 

Although emotional distress falls under pain and suffering damages, it is a distinct type of harm.

Pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other mental injuries must be compensated like physical injuries after a traumatic accident. 

Suppose you or a family member have been a car accident victim. In that case, contacting a reputable personal injury lawyer after you call the local authorities is important.

These experts are trained and experienced in offering legal assistance and can make the process much quicker and more seamless. Furthermore, depending on your emotional distress case, a lawyer can help you secure financial compensation.  

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