CAN I GET COMPENSATED FOR EMOTIONAL INJURIES FROM A CAR ACCIDENT?
You were in an accident in California. Although you did not suffer physical personal injuries, you did suffer psychological stress as a result of the car accident. You are asking yourself: Can I present a claim for emotional injuries and psychological stress caused by a car accident?
CAR ACCIDENT VICTIMS CAN BE COMPENSATED FOR DAMAGES
If you were injured in an accident then you would be able to present a claim for personal injury to the responsible driver’s insurance company. Damages for which a plaintiff can be compensated as a result of a motor vehicle accident case include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Under California law, part of pain and suffering is the emotional suffering and psychological stress that goes along with simply being in a car accident. However, most people would consider the more stressful part of the situation being injured, wasting time seeing doctors and receiving medical treatment and the stressful worry about whether you will ever be the same after being injured. After all, the car accident is stressful for about a day, while the stress from your injury and treatment can last years.
GETTING COMPENSATION FOR PHYSICAL INJURIES IS EASIER
So you can see that if you have no injuries, your pain and suffering will be limited to the stress of the accident alone. Although this is part of pain and suffering, and something you should be compensated for when you are in an accident, most people would consider this an inconvenience. And “most people” are the kind of people who sit on juries. If most people don’t think you should be compensated for this “inconvenience” as opposed to true pain and suffering, then good luck convincing an insurance adjuster to give you money for this.
However, that is not to say that some people might suffer greatly from purely emotional injuries in a car accident. The problem is that this is more difficult to prove. The plaintiff is required to prove the damages sustained. Proving a broken leg is somewhat easy as one can show a jury an x-ray. Proving emotional injuries is not as easy… and juries tend be much more critical when someone claims severe emotional trauma (PTSD, anxiety, depression, amnesia, sexual dysfunction, flashbacks, nightmares, etc.) as a result of a collision with little physical harms. To properly present this kind of claim, you must rely on well regarded experts on emotional injuries like psychiatrists. If your only injures are emotional and non physical, you would need to be able to demonstrate something unique about the nature of your emotional stress to get an insurance company to pay. That same would be true of convincing a jury to award money damages.