Can I Sue for Emotional Distress in Missouri?

January 15, 2021Personal Injury

After any kind of personal injury accident, the consequences can be much more than physical. If you are suffering from severe emotional distress that is impacting your daily life, you may have a claim for damages against the responsible party.

Car accidents can be devastating. In addition to physical injuries, you may be dealing with financial difficulties and are unable to work. This can take an emotional toll on anyone. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Missouri can evaluate your case and advise you on the amount of compensation you are entitled to if you have experienced severe emotional distress after an accident.

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress, also called mental anguish, is a form of psychological harm that results from a traumatic experience. A claim for emotional distress is usually filed along with another cause of action for a physical injury or financial losses, as it is often a component of “pain and suffering.” Under emotional distress, compensation can be recovered for a wide variety of mental afflictions that range from minor to debilitating. For example: 

  • Fear and anxiety
  • Major depression
  • Humiliation and feeling of degradation
  • Anger or Frustration
  • Cognitive changes after a head injury
  • Loss of career interest or diminished job performance
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Chronic pain disorder
  • Distress over a disability
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Losing sleep 

Any non-physical psychological conditions resulting from the accident or injury could fall under the umbrella of emotional distress. 

How Much Compensation Can You Receive for Emotional Distress?

The amount of compensation you recover for emotional distress will likely depend on its degree of severity. The pain associated with psychological harm can cause problems with relationships and work or school, sometimes leading to lifelong financial effects. In general, the more harm your emotional distress causes, the more compensation you can claim. There are typically two methods used for calculating non-economic damages: 

Per Diem Method

It assigns a certain dollar amount to each day after your accident that you suffer from emotional distress, until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). 

Multiplier Method

The more commonly used method, which takes the sum of your economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages, then multiplies that amount by a number between one and five. The more severe your suffering is, the higher the multiplier number will be. 

While some states place a limit on the amount of emotional distress and other pain and suffering damages you can recover, Missouri does not. These damages are referred to as non-economic damages, since they are not tangible losses that can be easily calculated.

How to Prove an Emotional Distress Claim

In order to have a claim for emotional distress, there generally must be three elements present: 

  • Negligent conduct on part of the defendant (at-fault party)
  • Severe emotional distress and/or physical harm as a result of the defendant’s reckless or intentional behavior. 
  • Financial losses as a result of the harm inflicted by the defendant. 

Proving emotional distress in a court of law will require documentation of your symptoms being a direct result of the accident, that they’re ongoing, and how they are impacting your life. Medically-documented emotional distress can be very powerful evidence, as well as a journal recording how you’re feeling on a daily basis. 

We Are Here to Help

The personal injury lawyers at Goldblatt + Singer offer experience, compassion, and dedication when it comes to fighting for our clients’ justice. If you or someone you love is experiencing emotional distress as a result of an accident, contact us today. Reach us online or call (314) 231-4100 to schedule a free consultation. 

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