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Recovering Damages for Emotional Trauma After a Car Crash

From the PersonalInjury.com blog

Many car accident victims don't pay attention to their emotional and mental health. An experienced auto accident attorney understands that these injuries can be just as devastating as physical ones. Emotional damages arise as a component of damages in a personal injury case.

There is a distinction in the law between economic damages and non-economic damages.

  • Economic damages - the law provides compensation of past lost wages and the amount of your medical bills.
  • Non-economic damages - the law also provides compensation for intangible injuries such as of pain and suffering. Examples include loss of capacity to enjoy life, feelings of anguish, anxiety, mood swings, bouts of anger, fearfulness, feelings of humiliation, crying, sleep issues and nightmares, losing appetite, and loss of interest in usual activities.

It's very important to document these types of anguish claims. You need to speak with a mental health professional who will document and hear the types of pain, mental anguish and suffering you have endured because of the physical injury.

"I have a lot of clients who are very wary, they're very anxious, they start to withdraw socially. They have social anxiety, not wanting to do the types of activities they did before," Attorney Julia McGrath says. "It's important to speak with witnesses, and friends and family. These people will be important before-and-after witnesses who will be able to testify how they were before, how they were afterwards and how their symptoms have progressed."

How to quantify emotional distress

"I have clients who used to take an hour to do grocery shopping, and now it takes two hours. Everything is more difficult and takes longer - longer to do laundry, longer to brush their teeth," McGrath says.

People understand increments of time, and dollars per hour. You can present pain and suffering as a matter of "how much is your time worth? Is it worth $50? $100 an hour? $500?"

"When you are dealing with physical injuries, you are not the same person. Pain changes your perspective, your attitude. It changes your life. That is important and it is not lost on people. When you're able to document it, calculate it and present it, then you are able to be compensated for it," she says.

After a car accident, a person should seek therapy. "If you know you are not acting the same, and or you have friends and family members who are pointing things out to you, you need to speak with someone about it. Don't try to go it alone. There's nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about it," McGrath says.

"It becomes important because without documentation and without actually treating, you're not going to heal, you're not going to get better and you're not going to be compensated for it," she says.

The law firm of Hallett, Zerillo, and Whipple, P.A. are Maine attorneys representing clients who have been seriously injured, accused of crimes in state and federal court, have business litigation needs or family law and divorce cases. Various attorneys in the firm have been locally and nationally recognized for their achievements, including admission into New England Super Lawyers, the Client's Choice Award from AVVO.com, and the President's Award from the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. For more information on the firm, please visit www.HZWlaw.com.

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