Question

Can I sue for mental suffering after a car accident in Ohio?

Daniel A. Romaine - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Daniel A. Romaine

Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A.
Euclid, OH
Phone: 216-289-4740
Fax: 216-289-4743

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Answer

The short answer to your question is yes, you can sue for emotional distress in a personal injury lawsuit or file for it in an insurance claim. Emotional distress is considered a “noneconomic loss,” which simply means that such losses are harder to quantify than “economic losses,” such as medical bills or lost wages from injuries suffered in a car accident.

One of the keys to successfully recovering damages for mental suffering is working with a personal injury lawyer to properly document your distress. If you are experiencing physical symptoms related to your mental suffering (concentration problems, weight loss, hair loss, trembling or tics, for example), make sure you have your physician place that information in the medical record — and ensure the doctor notes that the symptoms stem from distress after your accident. If you seek counseling to deal with anxiety, depression, PTSD or other emotional after-effects of your car wreck, continue to go to sessions for as long as your therapist advises to provide evidence that it was a necessary part of your recovery.

If the mental suffering from your accident has caused you to be unable to work, or has deeply impacted your family relationships, those things should also be documented through proper channels. Insurance companies will rarely consider self-reports of emotional suffering as sufficient. However, keeping a daily diary of your feelings and mental state after the accident can be useful when you communicate to your lawyer and your medical treatment team about how long you have been suffering and how your emotional distress has limited your life.

If you were injured in a car accident, and you are now experiencing mental suffering due to what you saw or heard or felt during the accident, two other types of torts (legal claims) separate from your personal injury suit may become available to you: negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Although less common than a simple claim of mental suffering in a personal injury lawsuit, in a case where road rage or aggressive driving caused a catastrophic accident, the court may find that the at-fault driver acted recklessly or with gross negligence.

The emotional pain caused by a car accident is just as real as the physical and property damage that is inflicted. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you identify the types of mental suffering you have experienced. They will be familiar with the calculation methods the insurance companies use and can place the monetary value of the suffering in a range that will be considered useful in settlement negotiations or will be accepted as reasonable if your case moves to a civil trial.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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