Most people who file a personal injury claim focus their efforts upon seeking compensation for their physical injuries. They seek reimbursement for their medical bills and loss of income. They also seek compensation for their diminished earning capacity and other damages related to permanent impairments and disabilities.

However, accident victims are also entitled to compensation for their emotional distress and mental trauma. Individuals who sustain injuries also experience stress and trauma because of the accident and their injuries. These damages are just as real and as serious as the physical injuries and financial damages caused by the accident.

What is Emotional Distress and Mental Trauma?

When another party injures you, you can experience a variety of intense emotions. You may also experience stress and worry about paying your medical bills and living expenses while you are out of work. You may experience stress because you do not know how you will care for your family if you are unable to get out of bed or care for yourself.

Because each person is different and each accident is unique, emotional distress and mental anguish can manifest differently. Examples of signs that someone may be experiencing emotional distress after an accident include, but are not limited to:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Confusion
  • Sorrow
  • Anxiety
  • Shock
  • Isolation
  • Eating problems
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Apprehension

In some cases, an accident victim might develop psychological disorders because of the accident. A victim might experience clinical depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you develop any symptoms or signs that indicate you have emotional disorders or psychological conditions, it is crucial to seek immediate medical treatment. 

What Types of Incidents Can Cause Emotional Distress?

A claim for emotional distress can arise from any traumatic event. Examples of situations that could lead to emotional distress include:

Even though emotional distress is recognized as recoverable damage after an injury or accident, establishing a value for emotional distress can be challenging.

What is the Value of My Emotional Distress Claim?

Emotional damages are considered non-economic damages or “pain and suffering” damages in a personal injury case. Unlike the loss of income, medical bills, or other economic losses, there is no bill, invoice, or other evidence of the value of a person’s emotional distress. Each person’s emotional suffering after an accident is unique.

Texas laws do not provide a standard formula for calculating the value of an emotional distress claim. It is left to the parties to agree to the value for an emotional distress claim or the jurors in a personal injury lawsuit

In most cases, the parties or jurors use one of two ways to value emotional distress claims:

  • The per diem method
  • The multiplier method

In both methods, certain factors increase the value of the claim. The type and severity of the injury, the amount of financial damages, and whether the person sustained a permanent impairment are crucial factors that impact the value claim. In most cases, the more severe the injury and the higher the financial damages, the more value is assigned to emotional distress and other non-economic damages.

The Per Diem Method

With the per diem method, the parties or jurors assign a daily value for emotional distress and other non-economic damages. The per diem is multiplied by the number of days the victim took to recover from injuries. The recovery length is generally measured from the date of the injury through the date the person is released from a doctor’s care.

The Multiplier Method

The multiplier method is more commonly used when valuing emotional distress damages. A multiplier between 1.5 and five is assigned to the claim. Claims involving catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities receive higher multipliers. 

The total of the person’s economic losses is multiplied by the multiplier. The result is the value of the pain and suffering damages, including emotional distress claims.

Deadline for Filing Claims for Emotional Distress in Texas

There is a deadline for filing an emotional distress claim. Generally, the claim must be filed within two years from the date of the injury or accident. There are some exceptions to the rule for minors and injuries that are not discovered until later.

However, there are also cases in which the time to file a claim could be shorter. Cases involving government entities have a very short deadline for filing claims. A personal injury lawyer can review the claim and calculate the deadline so that you do not miss your chance to recover compensation for all the damages caused by an accident or injury.