Understanding Emotional Distress Damages in a Texas Personal Injury Case

If you have suffered a traumatic event, such as a car accident, the physical wounds are often obvious: you broke a bone, or you suffered lacerations, bruises, burns or a concussion. In the most severe cases, you were rendered a paraplegic or had severe internal injuries. But often less obvious—and perhaps more insidious—are the emotional wounds. Those are the ones that cause sleeplessness, confusion, and mood swings that can make it difficult to hold down a job, go to school or maintain healthy relationships with friends and those you love. ­

What constitutes emotional distress damages?

First of all, “damages” in personal injury cases are compensation (money) paid to the person who has been injured or suffered harm because of the negligence, recklessness or illegal behavior of another. In Texas, emotional distress—or mental anguish­—falls into one of two categories: it is either intentionally inflicted or caused by negligence.

Examples of intentionally inflicted emotional distress include physical or sexual abuse, libel or slander, or threats of violence.

Perhaps more common is what is referred to as negligent infliction of emotional distress, or NIED. If you have ever been in a serious car accident, for instance, you may understand that it can be traumatizing. Generally speaking, however, it can be difficult to prove emotional distress in Texas unless you have also suffered physical injuries.

One interesting exception to that is when someone witnesses an accident, provided that 1) he or she was located near the scene of the accident, as contrasted with one who was a distance away from it; (2) suffered shock as a result of direct emotional impact upon the plaintiff from a sensory and contemporaneous observance of the accident, as contrasted with learning of the accident from others after its occurrence; and (3) was closely related to the primary victim of the accident.

Emotional distress damages are considered “non-economic” in that they don’t have an obvious effect on one’s general abilities, as would be the case with a physical injury. And because unlike physical injuries which are more easily quantifiable, Texas courts cap NIED damages.

Types of emotional distress may include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Fearfulness

Emotional distress damages depend on you and your attorney proving that your mental anguish is intense, that it is persistent and has been long in duration, that it is related to a physical injury, and that there is an underlying cause. Moreover, it will require documentation from a psychologist, psychiatrist or another qualified medical professional to support the claim.

Yes, you can get compensation for emotional distress, but you will need an experienced Texas personal injury attorney on your side.

Talk to us about how we may be able to help you get the best possible compensation for your emotional distress claim

We aggressively represent you when you seek emotional distress damages. Our goal is to help you get your life back, and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. To discuss your situation, please call us at (281) 645-5000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly skilled attorneys.