What is Mental Anguish in a Personal Injury Case?
After an accident, victims sustain many losses. They incur high medical bills while receiving treatment for their injuries, they may not be able to work for a significant period of time, and they also suffer mentally. When another person’s negligence caused the accident, injured individuals can file a personal injury claim against the careless party to recover damages.
One type of damages available in personal injury claims are those for mental anguish. Damages for mental anguish are a type of non-economic damages that include the grief, anxiety, depression, fear, or trauma victims experience after an accident. Mental anguish in a personal injury case is a loss sustained after an accident. If you have been hurt, you deserve to include that information in your claim. A New York City personal injury lawyer can advise on your case and help you recover the full damages you deserve.
A personal injury lawyer from Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. can advise on your case and if you are eligible for mental anguish damages. Contact us today to request a free consultation.
What are Non-Economic Damages?
Due to the fact that mental anguish is a type of non-economic damages, it is important to understand these types of damages. Non-economic damages encompass the losses sustained during an accident that do not have a dollar value. The most common types of non-economic damages in personal injury claims include pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, emotional distress, humiliation, and mental anguish.
Non-economic damages are much more difficult to calculate because they do not have a concrete dollar value in the same way that medical expenses and lost income do. Juries sometimes overcompensate for that fact and the amount of non-economic damages can greatly exceed the total economic damages awarded. Damages for non-economic damages such as mental anguish can also vary on a case-by-case basis, as there is no set formula for calculating them.
The Zone of Danger Rule
The law in New York recognizes that seeing a loved one become seriously injured or killed in an accident is just as traumatic as someone being hurt themselves. As such, if you witnessed an immediate family member suffer a serious injury or become killed as a result of someone else’s negligence, you can include mental anguish in your claim as long as you were within the “zone of danger.” To recover damages in these situations, you must show:
- There was a possibility of you becoming seriously injured or killed in the same accident as your loved one,
- You were keenly aware of the danger of serious injury or death your loved one faced during the accident,
- Your parent, child, or sibling was injured during the accident, and
- As a result of witnessing the accident, you sustained a physical or mental injury
Family members that file a claim using the zone of danger rule can also often seek economic damages through a wrongful death claim. Economic damages are those that have an actual dollar value, such as medical expenses, lost income, and more.
Proving Damages for Mental Anguish
Like all aspects of your personal injury claim, when trying to obtain damages for mental anguish, you must prove that you incurred these damages. Unlike criminal cases, you do not have to prove your damages beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, you must only prove your damages by a preponderance of the evidence. This means you must only prove that you most likely incurred the damages, rather than proving that there is little doubt that you incurred the damages.
Generally speaking, the strongest claims for mental anguish involve some type of physical injury or severe psychological effects. One of the best ways to prove you have incurred these types of injuries is to get the medical attention you need after an accident, and to follow through on any treatment plans the doctor recommends. This will result in documentation through your medical records, which you can then use to prove you suffered some mental anguish as a result of the accident.
You should also keep a journal of your injuries and how they are impacting your life. Writing these things down is important, because your memories may fade over time and you may not fully remember how they affected your daily life. Also take pictures of your injuries, hospitalizations, and anything else that could prove that the extent of your injuries caused you mental anguish.
Statements from family and friends can also serve as witness testimony, which is important evidence when claiming damages for mental anguish. Your loved ones can testify about how your injuries have impacted your life, how you can no longer enjoy activities you once loved, and more. If you are seeing a mental health professional for your mental injury, these documents and witness testimony from the medical professional can also help you prove your damages.
Caps on Damages for Mental Anguish
It is not uncommon for states to place a cap on damages, particularly non-economic damages such as mental anguish. These caps are very limiting for accident victims because they do not allow them to recover the full damages they are entitled to.
Fortunately, New York does not place a cap on the damages you can receive after an accident, even if your mental anguish was due to medical malpractice. Medical malpractice claims commonly have caps placed on the amount of non-economic damages, but in New York, that is not the case. If you have suffered mental anguish as a result of someone else’s carelessness, a New York City personal injury lawyer can help you claim the full amount of damages you deserve.
Get Legal Help Today
If you have been in an accident caused by the negligent actions of another person, our New York City personal injury lawyers can help you claim mental anguish in a personal injury case and get full damages you deserve. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our seasoned attorneys know how to prove the damages you incurred, and we will negotiate aggressively with the other side to help you recover the fair settlement you deserve. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or fill out our online form to request a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.