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Emotional Distress after a Personal Injury

After you’ve been in an accident or experienced another personal injury, you may need to sue for damages via an insurance claim. At this time, you’ll probably consider the tangible expenses that you need to cover due to the incident, including physical injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and car repair charges. However, many people fail to consider the emotional aspect of their health and the emotional distress they experienced due to the injury or accident. Just like any other part of your health, your psychological health is important and you deserve to be compensated if it is damaged in an accident. 

Signs of Emotional Distress 

Emotional distress refers to the psychological or mental trauma that can result from negligent conduct, and it can often be difficult to differentiate typical stress and emotional distress. Emotional trauma from a personal injury or accident can result in anxiety, depression, and stress that can cause or contribute to the person developing a psychological or psychiatric disorder. There are several signs that you can look for after an accident that may point toward emotional distress: 

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Changes in temperament or mood
  • Nightmares and flashbacks
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Memory problems 

These symptoms can also indicate a more severe issue, including panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Emotional Distress Complaints 

Under Canadian law, a complaint for emotional distress needs to establish two components: 

  • The psychological injury that was suffered was a foreseeable consequence of the negative conduct on behalf of the defendant.
  • The psychological injury was serious enough that it resulted in a severe and recognizable psychiatric illness. 

While the court has had a tendency to only provide damages where a recognizable psychiatric illness was proven, there have also been decisions that reject this interpretation of emotional distress. In Easton vs. Ramadonovic Estate, a case involving two sisters who saw their mother and father killed from the back seat of their car, damages were awarded even when a recognizable psychiatric illness was not established in the younger sister. The Easton ruling has been upheld in similar cases since then. 

Filing a Claim for Emotional Distress 

Just like with physical injuries, emotional distress also comes with tangible financial costs. This can include lost wages, psychiatric care, and home maintenance costs that you cannot cover. When filing an emotional distress case, your attorney will work with doctors, psychologists, and mental health experts to better understand your level of emotional distress, as this can prove your case and need for compensation. You may also be eligible for punitive damages if it can be proven that the emotional distress was caused intentionally. 

Emotional distress claims are more complex than physical injuries, as they are often more difficult to explain to a jury. As a result, you should consider seeking the assistance form an experienced and highly qualified personal injury lawyer to ensure that all aspects of your trauma – both physical and emotional – are recognized when you have your day in court.