Can You Sue for Emotional Distress in Texas?
People often associate personal injury lawsuits with physical injuries like broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and back injuries. However, victims of car crashes, workplace accidents, and slip and fall accidents can also suffer immense emotional and psychological trauma. So, if you’ve suffered trauma, can you sue someone for causing emotional distress in Texas?
Fortunately, Texas personal injury law does allow injury victims to pursue compensation for emotional distress damages.
What is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is mental suffering that accident and injury victims experience as an emotional response to a particular event. In tort law, there are two causes of action that involve infliction of emotional distress: intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) occurs when a person acts with the intent to cause another person to suffer severe emotional distress. IIED can occur in cases dealing with assault and nursing home abuse.
Negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED), on the other hand. occurs when a person causes extreme emotional distress through negligent action. Intent is not needed for NIED to occur. NIED is the more common of the two when it comes to personal injury lawsuits and applies to incidents like:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Company vehicle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability claims
What are Examples of Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress can manifest in a number of ways. Further, a plaintiff may experience multiple symptoms of emotional distress after a traumatic event. These include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Panic attacks
- Eating disorder
- Substance abuse
- Excessive sleeping
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling helpless
- Suicidal thoughts
- Low energy
- Unexplained aches and pains, including stomachaches and headaches
- Loss of interest
If you believe your child is suffering from emotional distress, you may keep an eye out for additional symptoms. These include:
- Disruptive behavior
- Sudden changes in school performance
Extreme emotional distress may require mental health treatment, including therapy, medication, and counseling.
How to Sue for Emotional Distress
Suing for emotional distress in Texas is actually very similar to suing for physical injuries. Texas personal injury law works to ensure injury victims are compensated for all damages, not just those that can be seen. The idea is often referred to as “making the plaintiff whole.”
To file an emotional distress lawsuit, the first thing you will want to do is call a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney will help calculate the extent of the damages. These can include economic damages, like the cost of treatment and counseling, lost wages, and other financial losses. They can also include non-economic damages like pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment experienced because of emotional distress.
One final thing to remember is that accident victims are not the only ones that can sue for emotional distress. Texas law also allows bystanders who witnessed a traumatic event to receive compensation. This is called a bystander action.
For example, if you witnessed a pedestrian being struck by a car, you can still file an emotional distress lawsuit even if you did not suffer physical injuries.
How Much is My Emotional Distress Claim Worth?
We often say “a personal injury case is worth what the judge or jury is willing to award.” This is especially true for emotional distress cases. After all, how much are a person’s pain and suffering worth?
Because there are no formulas that can accurately predict the value of your emotional distress case, it is up to your attorney to determine the value of the damages you suffered and demonstrate that value in court. Evidence considered in valuing your claim may include:
- Medical records
- Mental evaluations by mental health professionals
- Photographs of your accident and/or injuries
- A journal documenting your daily symptoms
- The testimony of an expert witness
As your attorney works to establish the value of your claim, they may seek a per diem agreement with the defendant. A per diem will provide a dollar amount for your emotional distress which is then multiplied by the number of days between your accident and when you are released from treatment.
However, the more common method is known as the multiplier method. This is when a multiplier is assigned to a claim based on the severity of injuries and other factors. The value of your emotional distress is equal to your financial damages times the multiplier. This method does require that you suffered some kind of financial or economic loss.
Should I Hire an Attorney for My Emotional Distress Claim?
The simple answer is yes. There is no requirement that you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your emotional distress claim, but it is typically in your best interest. As previously mentioned, it is challenging to determine the value of emotional distress. It is even more difficult to prove that value is accurate.
Thomas J. Henry Law has represented clients in personal injury claims for nearly 30 years. Over that time, we have helped thousands of clients recover non-economic damages including damages related to emotional distress. An emotional distress lawyer knows how to build your case to help ensure you received all the money you deserve. This includes collecting evidence and medical bills and bringing in expert witnesses to explain your suffering to a judge and jury.
If you have questions about filing or compensation for an emotional distress lawsuit, contact our law firm. We have offices in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Our emotional distress lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends.