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Compensation for Emotional Distress in a Car Accident

The ramifications of a car accident can extend well beyond physical injuries. Many crash survivors also suffer significant psychological, mental and emotional distress. Car accidents can be mentally traumatic for survivors and witnesses alike. In Georgia, it is possible to seek financial compensation for emotional distress from a car accident. As the injured victim, or plaintiff, it is your burden to prove emotional distress before you can recover compensation.

Definition and Symptoms of PTSD

One of the most common mental health conditions diagnosed after automobile accidents is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. A person may be at risk of developing PTSD after living through or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a serious car accident. PTSD is a psychological anxiety disorder that can affect the brain’s ability to come out of the fight-or-flight reaction of a car accident, leading to high anxiety and other symptoms, such as:

  • Intrusive thoughts or sudden recollections of the car accident
  • Nightmares or flashbacks about the car accident
  • Depression or feelings of hopelessness
  • Self-isolation or withdrawal from favorite activities
  • Feeling disassociated with feelings and emotions
  • Avoiding triggers that remind the victim of the accident
  • Irritability, excessive anger or outbursts

PTSD typically goes away on its own over time. In some cases, however, a crash survivor may also need medication and/or therapy. If you believe you have PTSD after a car accident in Georgia, go to a doctor and describe your symptoms. You may need to talk to a psychologist or therapist for an official post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis. If you wish to pursue financial compensation for PTSD, it is important to obtain a medical diagnosis for this condition. Medical records can provide powerful evidence of emotional distress.

Can You Recover Compensation for Emotional Distress?

Yes, you can recover compensation for emotional distress during a car accident lawsuit in Georgia. Emotional distress falls under the damages category of pain and suffering. Damages is the legal term for the financial compensation that may be available to an injured accident victim in a car accident claim. In any personal injury lawsuit, if a victim seeks damages for pain and suffering, he or she is requesting financial compensation for one or more of the following intangible losses:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Psychological trauma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Interference with daily life or activities
  • Disfigurement or debilitation
  • Lost or diminished quality of life
  • Distress to loved ones
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of a loved one’s household services or companionship

The value of a pain and suffering award will depend on the individual case and victim. It is up to a jury whether or not to award pain and suffering damages in a car accident trial, as well as how much to give if awarded. A jury will listen to the victim’s story and review the available evidence, such as medical records, psychological reports and testimony from experts. Then, the jury will award an amount that is deemed appropriate for the severity of the victim’s emotional distress.

How Do You Prove Emotional Distress?

To recover financial compensation for emotional distress or PTSD after a car accident in Georgia you or your Atlanta car accident attorney must prove that this type of loss exists and that it resulted from the car crash. Proving emotional distress can be difficult, as there is no test or x-ray that can demonstrate it. There are steps you can take, however, to strengthen your claim.

Create an injury journal where you write down everything you are thinking and feeling in the aftermath of an accident. Leave out no details, as this can give a jury a window into your thoughts and emotions during this time. Seek professional help from a doctor or psychologist and follow your doctor’s treatment plan exactly. Then, hire a car accident lawyer to help you prove emotional distress and fight for maximum financial compensation.

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