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What Are Emotional Damages in Texas Personal Injury Cases?


“You’ll be hearing from my lawyer!” We hear this phrase often enough on daytime TV, and these dramas would leave us to believe that someone can sue over anything that makes them upset. While there is a modicum of truth that people can sue for all sorts of scenarios, it doesn’t mean that their case will be successful. However, when it comes to emotional damages in personal injury cases, it is interesting to note that a successful claim is not only possible but can result in substantial recovery! Therefore, understanding the potential for emotional damage recovery in Texas personal injury cases can help people determine if they have a case.

Should I Sue for Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?

In some cases, you may be able to collect compensation for emotional distress caused as a direct result of the car accident. These are considered noneconomic damages and result from the pressures surrounding serious and catastrophic injuries. Talk with a lawyer about including emotional distress damages in your claim to determine whether you may have a successful lawsuit for emotional distress following your car accident.

The Two Types of Emotional Damages

Under Texas law, there are two general types of emotional damages. On the one hand, you have the intentional infliction of emotional distress. In these cases, the defendant is seeking recovery for emotional trauma that the plaintiff intentionally inflicted on him or her.

Successful intentional infliction of emotional distress recovery can stem from instances of:

  • Physical abuse;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Death threats;
  • Defamation;
  • Stalking.

Although the intentional infliction of emotional damage is difficult to prove in cases where the defendant was not physically harmed, recovery for these scenarios is still possible. However, deliberate infliction of emotional damage cases are relatively uncommon, as the situations that qualify as “intentional” are few and far between.

On the other side of the emotional damages spectrum, you have negligent infliction of emotional damages. In these scenarios, it is argued that the plaintiff’s negligent actions caused the defendant to suffer emotional distress that greatly impacted him or her life. A negligent action is an action considered by the court to be out of the ordinary and inherently dangerous.

Successful negligent infliction of emotional distress recovery can stem from:

As you can see, there are a variety of scenarios where the infliction of emotional distress (intentional or otherwise) can result in successful recovery. However, it is not just the scenario that affects someone’s ability to recover; it is also the impact it has on the defendant.

How Physical Harm Plays a Roll

Although all cases involving emotional distress make the argument that the defendant was mentally harmed, recovery is more likely to be successful when physical injuries are tied with the case. For example, if someone suffers a car accident and receives post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he or she may be able to recover for their mental anguish alone even though they don’t have physical injuries. However, if someone suffers a car accident and receives PTSD and a well-documented contusion on his or her forehead, he or she is more likely to recover from the accident than the person with no physical injuries.

The reason physical harm plays such an integral role in successful emotional distress recovery is that the judge or the jury who decides the outcome of the case is a subjective entity. Some people doubt the existence of mental trauma, especially when it is not accompanied by physical injuries. However, when people see photos or videos of someone who has received a physical injury, they are more likely to believe that emotional trauma occurred as well. All that to say, while we know that emotional trauma can be just as, if not more, severe than physical injuries, not everyone sees it that way, and at the end of the day, the interpretation of the facts is what matters in the courtroom.

Different Types of Compensation You Can Receive

When someone is attempting to recover compensation under a Texas emotional distress claim, there are two types of compensation recovery: economic and noneconomic.

Economic damages are classified as damages that are objectively quantifiable due to their clear economic impact on the defendant. For example, assume that someone suffered PTSD as a result of a car accident. When that person is ready to seek emotional recovery from their accident, they may go and visit a therapist. As seeing a therapist costs money and is a part of the person’s recovery from the incident, he or she may be compensated by the plaintiff’s insurance for their therapy sessions.

Economic damages can also stem from lost wages. If someone suffers PTSD after a car accident and is unable to drive to work due to their acute fear of driving caused by his or her PTSD, he or she may lose a portion of their income as a result of their emotional trauma. In this scenario, if a negligent infliction of emotional trauma case succeeds, the plaintiff’s insurance will likely have to pay for the wages the defendant missed due to their fear of driving.

The other kind of compensation recovery is noneconomic. Noneconomic damages are damages that stem from the defendant’s pain, suffering, and emotional distress as a result of the accident in question. As these damages are less concrete than economic damages, Texas has capped the amount of money that a defendant may recover if a case proves successful. However, the cap limit is entirely dependent on circumstances surrounding the case. If the infliction of emotional trauma was intentional, it is likely that the noneconomic recovery cap is higher than if the infliction of emotional trauma was a byproduct of negligence.

How to File for Emotional Distress Cases

Filing for an emotional distress case is a complicated process, and consequently, not everyone should pursue an emotional distress lawsuit. Fortunately, Stern Law Group can help you determine if your case is worth pursuing!

With a combined 150 years of legal experience, our team has argued for all sorts of personal injury scenarios, which means we can help you decide if pursuing your case is a worthwhile endeavor.

Call (877) 661-9900 now to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

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