The physical toll of a serious personal injury accident in California is hard enough on victims. A violent accident might cause a broken bone that leaves a patient unable to walk into work or even enjoy family life without constant pain.
Compensation for these physical consequences can be sought through an insurance claim. But accident victims may not know that the emotional challenges they face could also earn them insurance support.
Victims may seek damages for the “negligent infliction of emotional distress” and receive valuable support for the mental trauma they are exposed to in an accident and during recovery.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Serving California Victims
Your first roadblock to earning compensation in a California personal injury claim may be your confusion over your case. Can I win compensation from an insurance company? What is my mental trauma worth?
Schedule a free case consultation with Maison Law of California. It’s a no-risk way to find out how easy it may be to recover full financial support from the party responsible for your accident. You’ll also be informed of every damage you’ve suffered that can earn compensation, including the difficult emotional journey you’ve had to make during your recovery.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in California Accidents
A claim filed over the negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) alleges the at-fault party’s negligence caused the plaintiff emotional or mental harm.
The plaintiff may be the victim of physical injury in an accident, but the plaintiff may also be a close relative who suffered emotional trauma while watching a loved one come to harm. A claimant filing a negligent infliction claim doesn’t have to have suffered a physical injury.
It should be noted that an “intentional infliction of emotional distress” claim is another option for victims. This is when it’s alleged that a defendant intentionally caused the mental trauma experienced by a victim.
Differences in NIED claims and Other Personal Injury Cases
It’s important to note the differences between an NIED claim the more common emotional distress damages.
Emotional distress damages are commonly one component of a larger personal injury claim that includes other physical and economic damages. An NIED claim can be filed as a standalone case, especially when a victim suffered no physical injuries.
An NIED claim still hinges on a defendant’s negligence a the “duty of care” owed to victims. It allows someone who didn’t suffer physical damages, and perhaps no economic damages, the opportunity to earn compensation from an at-fault party.
A case could arise over the worry caused for the plaintiff after being exposed to a harmful substance. Another example of a potential claim is the anxiety caused by a medical misdiagnosis. A plaintiff might experience emotional shock while watching a loved one hurt by the malfunction of a defective product in their home. These cases might all earn a victim financial support for the emotional trauma suffered.
What Counts as Emotional Distress in California?
California law establishes the sort of hardships that could be considered emotional distress in a personal injury case involving negligent infliction.
“Emotional distress includes suffering, anguish, fright, horror,
nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shock, humiliation, and shame.
Serious emotional distress exists if an ordinary, reasonable person would
be unable to cope with it.”
Proving Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
In California, the victims of emotional trauma, along with their personal injury lawyers, would need to prove a few factors in order to have a strong foundation for an NIED claim. They’ll be demonstrating how the negligent party caused the victim serious mental distress.
- Show that the defendant was negligent in a duty of care owed to the plaintiff.
- Show that the plaintiff suffered serious emotional distress.
- Show that the defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in the plaintiff’s emotional distress.
Can a Bystander Claim Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress?
Yes. The plaintiff in an NIED case is often a bystander when an accident occurs. This type of case most commonly stems from car accidents where someone in the vehicle watches as a loved one is injured or killed in an impact.
In order to secure compensation in a personal injury claim, a plaintiff would have to prove a few things are true. The bystander must be closely related to the victim who was physically harmed. “Close relative” means a spouse or domestic partner and the victim’s parents, siblings, children, and grandparents. A family member living in the same residence as the victim could also be eligible to file a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim.
Plaintiffs must also prove they were on the scene of an accident and in the “zone of danger” when it occurred. The plaintiff must demonstrate the emotional harm endured went far beyond what a bystander unrelated to the victim would have suffered.
Compensation Available Through an NIED Claim
The victims of negligent infliction of emotional distress are granted up to two years to file a personal injury claim under California Law. This statute of limitations means that if you wait beyond 24 months to file, you have usually given up your right to earn financial compensation.
A skilled California Personal Injury Lawyer would make sure you didn’t miss any deadlines. Your lawyer will also work to create a full list of the hardships you’ve faced on your claim for damages. This list is sent to the at-fault party’s insurance provider.
Anything left off the list won’t factor into an insurance settlement offer. That’s why it’s so important to make sure every damage your emotional turmoil has caused is included. An experienced personal injury lawyer helps you consider some of the difficulties you’ve endured that you may not have thought could earn compensation.
These factors and more will be considered when compensation for emotional distress is determined:
- Medical expenses for any physical manifestations of your inner distress.
- The costs of mental health care.
- Lost income when emotional trauma keeps you from going to work.
- Other consequences of emotional trauma such as difficulties in relationships with family and friends. The inability to participate in family activities.
- Loss of enjoyment of life when mental trauma keeps you from doing the things you love, such as hobbies or travel.
Contact a California Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been physically hurt and/or emotionally traumatized due to the carelessness of another person or business, please make sure you know your rights as a victim.
Discuss your case with attorney Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law of California, in a free, no-obligation consultation. Find out what your injury and mental distress are worth before allowing an insurance company to decide your level of compensation.
Mr. Gasparian has worked for major corporations and dealt with some of the biggest insurers in the world. He now uses his knowledge and experience to make sure everyday people receive fair treatment from corporate lawyers and insurance adjusters after a traumatic accident.