Can You Sue Someone for Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?

When you get injured in a car accident, the consequences can extend far beyond the physical pain you endure. Car accidents often have severe psychological effects as well, and many accident victims suffer from emotional distress for months, years, or even decades after their collisions. 

Can you sue someone for emotional distress after a car accident? As a general rule, the answer is “Yes” in Bakersfield, CA. Accident victims are entitled to just compensation for all of their financial and non-financial losses, and this includes compensation for their emotional distress.

At the Law Offices of Mickey Fine, we understand the considerable physical and emotional burdens that impact accident victims. Our Bakersfield car accident attorneys are committed to helping the wrongfully injured pursue the full and fair compensation they need to move forward with their lives. 

What is Considered Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?

The term “emotional distress” has a specific meaning under California law. It encompasses many (but not all) of the psychological effects victims can experience after being involved in a serious collision. This includes psychological effects such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Shock

While some car accident victims will experience these effects immediately, others will gradually begin to notice signs and symptoms over time. In any case, seeking treatment at the first sign of emotional distress can be critical for a car accident victim’s psychological and financial recovery. 

How Do You Seek Compensation for Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?

In the vast majority of circumstances, seeking just compensation for emotional distress after a car accident begins with filing an insurance claim. If another driver caused your collision, then that driver’s insurance policy should cover your financial and non-financial losses. You will start the process by contacting your insurance company, and then you will need to prove that the other driver’s insurance company is liable in order to secure payment.  

While you may eventually need to sue to recover just compensation for your emotional distress, most auto insurance claims settle out of court. If you can prove that the other driver was at fault and prove how much you are entitled to recover, you may be able to obtain a favorable outcome without going to trial. 

How Do You Prove Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?

When seeking just compensation after a car accident, it is not enough to simply state that you are suffering from emotional distress. You must be able to prove the psychological effects of the collision. This requires evidence, which may take the form of:

  • Medical records
  • Psychological or psychiatric therapy records
  • Prescription records
  • A report or testimony from your care providers
  • Written statements or testimony from friends and loved ones
  • A diary or journal in which you record the day-to-day effects of your emotional distress

Whether you are seeking compensation for emotional distress in settlement negotiations or at trial, you need clear and reliable evidence that is admissible in court. If the insurance companies know you don’t have the evidence you need to win at trial, they aren’t going to offer the compensation you deserve. As a result, it is important to begin working with a Bakersfield car accident lawyer early in the process so that your lawyer can guide you, recommend providers who can help with your case, and collect the evidence that is needed to prove your emotional distress. 

What Constitutes Just Compensation for Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?

In addition to proving that you are entitled to financial compensation for your emotional distress, you also need to prove how much you are entitled to recover. The insurance companies won’t do this for you; and, if you need to sue to recover just compensation for your emotional distress, you will need to be able to convince the judge or jury that you are entitled to an appropriate award. 

So, how do you calculate just compensation for emotional distress after a car accident?

California law recognizes two primary methods of calculating just compensation for emotional distress. The first method, known as the “multiplier” method, involves multiplying a car accident victim’s financial losses (i.e. medical bills, lost income, and lost future earning capacity) by a number between 1.5 and 5. The specific number (or multiplier) used is based on the severity and duration of the victim’s emotional distress. The second method, known as the “per diem” method, applies a daily dollar value to a car accident victim’s emotional distress, and then this number gets multiplied by the number of days the victim is expected to experience emotional distress during his or her lifetime. 

Contact a Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyer Today

Are you suffering from emotional distress after a car accident in Bakersfield? If so, we invite you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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Don’t face your injuries alone. Call the Law Offices of Mickey Fine today at 661-333-3333 to discuss your case for free with a Bakersfield car accident lawyer.

Car Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
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