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Jackson & New Orleans Workers' Compensation / Blog / Car Accident / How to Prove Emotional Distress to Help Win Your Case

How to Prove Emotional Distress to Help Win Your Case


When most people are in a car accident, they generally only consider how they will afford their medical bills or car repairs—things that are considered economic damages in a personal injury case. But there are also non-economic damages, which are more intangible and without a distinct monetary value—such as emotional distress—that an injured victim is also entitled to. 

In many cases, the emotional pain and distress that a person suffers from after a car accident can be even worse than the economic damages and physical injuries. Car damage can be repaired and physical injuries will heal with time, but emotional trauma can last long after the accident. In some cases, car accidents victims can experience emotional distress and symptoms of PTSD for the rest of their life. 

Thus it is essential for injured victims to prove the extent of their emotional distress to ensure they get the compensation they deserve for their ongoing pain and suffering. Unfortunately, proving emotional distress is not as easy as proving other economic damages since a person’s emotional suffering cannot easily be calculated. 

If you are suffering emotionally after a car accident, one of our experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyers can assist you. We understand that the emotional toll an accident can have on a person’s life is often more devastating than the physical damages. We are dedicated to helping those suffering prove emotional distress to ensure they get the compensation they deserve. 

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress or anguish can vary from one person to the next. Everyone reacts differently to being in a car accident. However, generally, the more severe the accident, the more severe the emotional distress and trauma will be. 

Some common emotional distress examples and symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Extreme feelings of sadness or anger
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Misplaced guilt
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares and flashbacks
  • Avoidance of things that remind you of the accident

How Can I Prove Emotional Distress After a Mississippi Car Accident?

If you’re wondering how to prove emotional distress after a Mississippi car accident, the most simple answer is to document as much of your emotional pain and suffering in your daily life as much as possible. The more evidence you can provide of your suffering, the more likely you are to get the full amount of compensation you deserve. 

Factors that can play a role in recovering emotional distress damages include:

  • The duration of your emotional suffering
  • How severe your symptoms are
  • How much your symptoms have affected your quality of life
  • How bad the accident was

Steps you can take to help prove the above to the insurance company or the court should you decide to file an emotional distress lawsuit include:

1. Keep a Journal 

Even if you don’t think you are suffering emotionally, it’s beneficial to keep a journal of your thoughts and day-to-day life after the accident. This can help you recognize when the symptoms start, what triggers them, how long they last, and how severely they are impacting your life—all information that is needed to prove emotional distress in a personal injury case. So make note of everything and anything you can think of that might indicate you are suffering emotionally. 

2. Talk to Your Doctor or a Therapist

Your doctor can help you identify signs of emotional distress and they can testify for you if needed to prove that you are suffering. They can also refer you to a specialist who can help you, such as a counselor or a therapist. Seeking out help from a specialist is proof itself that you are suffering and trying to heal from emotional trauma. 

3. Keep Copies of All Documents

You will also want to hold on to any physical evidence of your suffering to provide as further evidence. This can include prescription medications, medical bills and receipts, and any other documents discussing your condition and your recommended treatments. 

How is Emotional Distress Calculated?

Because emotional distress is not something that can easily be represented in numbers, it is not easy to calculate. However, there are generally two methods that can be used, including:

  • The multiplier method: Using this method, you will be assigned a rating based on your condition. That number will then be multiplied by the amount you are awarded for your economic damages (medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc.). The rating scale typically ranges from 1 to 3 but can go up to 5 in some cases. So, for example, if you are given a rating of 3, and you are awarded $50,000 in economic damages, you will receive $150,000 for your emotional pain and suffering. 
  • The per diem method: With this method, you will be assigned an estimated daily rate based on your pain and suffering. That rate will then be awarded for all the days you are expected to suffer. So if you are assigned a daily rate of $200, and your emotional distress lasts for two years, you would receive a total of $146,000 ($200 x 730 days). 

These methods are not foolproof, however, which is why you need to document as much of your emotional distress as possible and gather as much evidence as you can to prove the extent of your suffering. 

Can You Sue for Emotional Distress in Mississippi?

If you are interested in suing for emotional distress, it is an option, but it will not be easy. Generally, courts prefer if you can come to a settlement agreement with the insurance company involved. However, if the money you initially receive from filing a personal injury claim is not enough to compensate you for your suffering, you can pursue legal action against the guilty party. 

Filing a lawsuit is not an easy process, and you will need the help of a professional attorney to assist you. Also, keep in mind that every state puts a cap on the amount of money they can receive for damages. In Mississippi, the cap for non-economic damages, such as emotional distress, is $1,000,000. 

So if you have already received close to that amount in a settlement for your personal injury claim, you likely won’t get much more by filing a lawsuit. Still, it is an option if needed.

Connect with an Experienced Mississippi Personal Injury Attorney

At Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, we are dedicated to helping our clients get the full amount they deserve for all they have suffered. We can walk you through every step of the personal injury claim process, and if the amount you receive is not enough, we can then help you file a lawsuit if desired. No matter the case or situation, we help each and every client to the best of our abilities. 

If you have questions or concerns about how to prove emotional distress, contact one of our experienced Mississippi personal injury attorneys today. After-hours visits are available. 


Video Transcript
Any person who suffers a physical injury in an accident can also receive compensation for emotional distress; what are called non-economic damages under the law, physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional distress, the general stress and anxiety of being in an accident, being injured and being in physical pain. And often, we as lawyers, the insurance companies, and certainly the juries who have to hear these cases consider the emotional and the physical pain, consider these things as important, if not more important than just how much was the medical treatment, or what do some medical records say about the injuries you had?
The emotional side of an accident tells a fuller story often then the medical records will themselves. So certainly anyone who’s been involved in an accident is also entitled to a level of compensation for their emotional distress.
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