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How Emotional Distress Affects Personal Injury Reimbursement?

The consequences or any accident are more elaborate than they are often believed to be. Many people think that the injuries are only external or physical and will be healed with treatment and over time. However, along with the physical injuries, the mental or emotional distress is also real and practical.

They can have long lasting impact on the victim’s life and can change his/her lifestyle, behaviour, emotion and attitude permanently. Hence, when compensation for the personal injury is claimed from the at-fault party, it is important that this aspect of emotional distress is also discussed.

The Problem with Emotional Distress and Personal Injury Compensation:

Many of the claims adjusters, especially from the insurance companies, think that the factor of emotional distress as a consequence of an accident is something invalid or something that doesn’t have any concrete base. They propagate the claim as a mean of increasing the compensation amount. However, the fact is that the emotional distress is a serious problem and must be taken into consideration, while calculating the compensation claim amount.

Sometimes the physical pain and suffering becomes one with the emotional distress. The limitations in the daily activities and the difficulty of everyday movements are no less serious than the physical impact of the accident or incident. So, it is important that you prove the emotional distress to the insurance adjuster.

How Emotional Distress Affects Personal Injury Reimbursement?

How Emotional Distress Affects Personal Injury Reimbursement?

What many people do not understand is that the extent or intensity of the emotional distress that a victim undergoes, can affect the compensation amount greatly. It is a point that the emotional distress will vary from person to person and there is no particular tool or meter that could properly measure the extent of the distress. But, undergoing psychological counselling and having it in writing from a medical professional or a psychologist or a doctor would always help in proving that your emotional distress is more severe than usual.

It is important to make a few points –

  • Your emotional distress is directly associated with and is a result of the accident that the at-fault party has caused
  • The emotional distress is affecting your daily life
  • The emotional distress is currently present and is an on-going distress.

It is quite easy to prove any sort of emotional distress, if the victim had not had any such problem before the accident. However, even those, who have been experiencing emotional distress prior to the accident, can still prove how the condition has only worsened post the accident. But of course, it is a little complicated and takes expert medical advice to prove it.

How to Prove Emotional Distress for Increasing Personal Injury Reimbursement?

It is indeed quite a difficult task to show the emotional distress that a victim undergoes, as a consequence of an accident, especially when someone else is at-fault. It might cost them –

  • Their personal relationship with the spouse
  • Relationship with the children
  • Failure to attend a special event or function during the recovery period, or any time in the near future for that matter (in case of permanent injuries)
  • Failure to take care of the kids in the house
  • Being afraid of facing the same accident or situation again
  • Being rigid with the children
  • Losing the comfort and relaxation that one used to enjoy while spending time with others
  • Feeling incapable
  • Depending on others even for simple activities.

All these come as an addition to the financial loss and insecurity that would cost them. This is an added emotional stress that the victims go through and all these feelings and anxieties are real.

Hence, it is important that the symptoms of these emotional distresses are reported to the jury and the insurance adjusters. These symptoms can be anything such as –

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Bitterness
  • Phobia of any sort (has to be associated with the kind of accident that has occurred)
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of consortium.

A medical documentation of these mental anguishes can be the best tool to support this. However, what can also be quite helpful is a personal diary or journal that documents these emotional distresses in the daily life events. How a victim is experiencing any of these emotional distresses and how he or she feels, can help in claiming higher compensation.

Sometimes, the emotional distress that is caused to the victim is intentional. The incident might not be as serious as a physical harm, injury or damage, but the emotional distress can be too much to handle. In that case, the at-fault party is liable to make compensation for the emotional distress.

The same can also be claimed for the personal injury reimbursements. The plaintiff can file the point that the emotional distress is intentional, along with the physical injury. This too will help in increasing the compensation amount.


  1. American Bar Association – Understanding Emotional Distress in Personal Injury Cases: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/pretrial-practice-discovery/articles/2018/understanding-emotional-distress-personal-injury-cases/
  2. NOLO – Proving Emotional Distress Damages in a Personal Injury Case: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/proving-emotional-distress-damages-in-a-personal-injury-case.html
  3. FindLaw – Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages in a Personal Injury Case: https://injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/compensatory-damages-in-personal-injury-cases.html
  4. Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute – Pain and Suffering Damages in Personal Injury Cases: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/pain_and_suffering_damages_in_personal_injury_cases
  5. LegalMatch – Can I Sue for Emotional Distress After an Accident?: https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/can-i-sue-for-emotional-distress-after-an-accident.html
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 17, 2023

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