emotional distress

Can I or Should I Sue for Emotional Distress?

I have seen it countless times. A person gets in an accident and, as a result, receives physical injuries. And they then often also go through a bout of depression or have some level of ongoing anxiety. This is perfectly normal for somebody who went through such an ordeal.  Next, they hire a lawyer who advises them that Pennsylvania law allows damages for both physical injuries and “emotional distress”. They file a Complaint and request damages. Sounds simple right? Not necessarily.

First and foremost, Pennsylvania Law is fairly stringent with regard to what sorts of emotional distress actually warrant monetary damages. But let us assume you are able to clear those initial legal hurdles and pursue a claim for emotional distress. In any physical injury claim, the insurance company and their lawyers are going to request your medical records. By raising a claim for emotional distress, your medical records for both your physical AND psychological condition become relevant. That means you will be asked about every time you may have told your family doctor that you were depressed for whatever reason or that you were feeling anxious about something. More importantly, any psychological treatment you received prior to the accident, such as counseling or medications, becomes relevant.

Strategy & Privacy

I’m not saying these things to scare you. Rather, the purpose is to stress the importance of having a well thought out strategy to your personal injury claim. Throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks well-thought-strategy. For example, you could forego making a formal request for emotional distress damages but still highlight your emotional and psychological pain as part of your claim for physical damages. This strategy will alleviate the need for you to jump over the legal hurdles that go with emotional distress claims. Plus, you can avoid unnecessary probing by the insurance company and its lawyers.

An experienced attorney can formulate the right strategy when an accident victim has both physical and emotional injuries. Therefore, give us a call if you or a loved one needs help.


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