Can I Seek Compensation for Emotional Damages After a Car Accident?

November 8, 2021

Ellis Law Corporation

Auto Accident

Being involved in a car accident can be very upsetting for many reasons. You or your loved one may have suffered serious physical injures that require extensive medical attention. It’s also not uncommon for people to struggle emotionally after a serious car accident. Recovering compensation for physical injuries is fairly straightforward, but it can be more difficult to determine the amount of compensation you’re entitled to for any emotional damages you’re experiencing as a result of the accident. 

Damages for Pain and Suffering

When referring to compensation for emotional damages, most people are referring to damages for pain and suffering. This type of compensation is considered non-economic damages, and it differs greatly from economic damages where the compensation for physical injuries can be much more easily quantified in monetary terms. Emotional injuries are much more difficult to explain, prove, and to put a value on. In California, it is possible to recover damages for emotional stress and pain and suffering. 

Emotional Distress

When seeking pain and suffering damages, emotional distress is one of the primary types of recoverable compensation. Emotional distress refers to a number of feelings and experiences, such as fear, anxiety, lack of sleep, depression, humiliation, and more. It’s sometimes possible to recover damages for pain and suffering even if you didn’t suffer any physical injuries. 

How to Prove Pain and Suffering

Physical injuries are easy to prove. You can obtain medical records, show the court photos of your injuries, and explain all of the activities you are no longer able to take part in because of your physical injuries. Emotional injuries are much more complex and can be challenging to prove. One of the best things you can do after an accident if you’re struggling emotionally is to seek assistance from a mental health professional. Not only will this be beneficial to you, but it will also be helpful should you decide to move forward with a civil lawsuit because it will show that you were emotionally distressed after the accident. 

Other ways to show emotional distress include taking statements from friends, family, and coworkers that detail what you used to be able to do and what you’re no longer able to do as a result of the accident. Perhaps you’re no longer able to drive because you have panic attacks every time you get in the car. Maybe you no longer spend time with your friends because you’re too depressed from the accident. There are many ways to show pain and suffering, but it’s a bit more complicated than simply quantifying and recovering compensation for physical injuries.

No Damage Cap

In most California personal injury cases, there is no limit to the amount of compensation you can recover as a result of your accident. This is true for non-economic damages (pain and suffering) and economic damages. Some exceptions exist, such as in medical malpractice cases, where there is a limit on the damages that can be awarded.

Exceptions – When You Cannot Recover Damages for Pain and Suffering

While pain and suffering damages are typically available in personal injury claims involving car accidents, there are some exceptions. In the following circumstances, you won’t be able to recover damages for pain and suffering: 

  • If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you cannot recover damages in connection with that accident
  •  If you didn’t have proper insurance for the vehicle you were operating, you probably won’t be able to recover any compensation

Contact a Lawyer for Help

If you or a loved one was in a car accident and believe you might be entitled to compensation, contact an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney right away.