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Severe car accidents often leave victims with trauma that isn’t always visible. Lacerations and bruising are easily seen by the naked eye, but mental scarring isn’t always so simple to pinpoint. Though, this doesn’t mean that emotional pain hurts victims any less than physical pain. Sometimes after a car accident, our mental anguish can be more unbearable than any of the physical injuries we have suffered.

Mental trauma has the potential to affect victims for the rest of their lives, long after all of the cuts have healed, and the bruising has faded. If you have experienced or witnessed a car accident in California and are suffering from emotional distress, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your damages–but how do you know if you are eligible to file a lawsuit for emotional distress?

Can You File a Lawsuit for Emotional Damages in California if You Weren’t Physically Injured?

The State of California allows victims to recover damages for any mental anguish incurred after a car accident, with some restrictions. Victims are not required to have any presence of physical injury to file a suit for emotional damages under an IIED (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress) or NIED (negligent infliction of emotional distress) claim in California. However, to succeed with an IIED claim, plaintiffs must prove that the defendant:

  • Acted in an extreme, atrocious, or outrageous manner
  • Intentionally meant to cause emotional distress to the plaintiff
  • Behaved in a way that did, in fact, cause the plaintiff to suffer emotional distress

The main difference between the IIED and NIED is that a defendant’s conduct does not need to be intentional for an NIED claim, but rather that they acted without care. Plaintiffs may claim NIED directly if a defendant’s negligent conduct was directed at them or as a bystander if the conduct was directed at a third party. For a direct NIED to be successful, the plaintiff must provide evidence that the:

  • Defendant behaved in a negligent manner
  • Plaintiff suffered severe emotional anguish
  • Defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s emotional distress

To win an NIED bystander claim in California, the plaintiff must show that:

  • They witnessed injury or death to a person with whom they had a close relationship with
  • The injury or death was caused by the defendant’s negligence
  • The plaintiff suffered emotional anguish

Lawsuits for emotional distress can be highly technical and require an extensive amount of legal preparation. If you have suffered, or are currently suffering, from emotional distress after a car accident, work with a personal injury attorney that can help you gather documentation to support your case for emotional distress.

What Ailments Could Qualify as Emotional Distress in California?

Successful claims for emotional distress require evidence that the plaintiff has suffered severe emotional pain. A statement that the plaintiff had their “feelings hurt” will not be enough to satisfy a judge or jury. You will be more likely be able to recover compensation for your emotional distress if you have been diagnosed with one or more of the following due to your car accident:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Other symptoms of mental or emotional symptoms may also be eligible for an emotional distress claim. If you are considering filing suit, your lawyer will evaluate evidence such as:

  • Medical records
  • Videos or photos that demonstrate behavioral changes before and after the crash
  • Social media posts
  • Sworn testimonies

An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help build your case for emotional distress and assist in your recovery of compensation.

Partner with a Skilled Beverly Hills Area Attorney for Your Emotional Distress Claim

Setareh Law has been a pioneer in Beverly Hills for many years and continues to provide the community with tenacious legal representation for physical and mental injury sufferers. We are dedicated to helping clients recover the compensation they are entitled to. Allow our high-quality support staff to work tirelessly on your behalf.

Our impressive track record speaks for itself. Call (310) 659-1826 or complete an online contact form today to schedule a free evaluation of your emotional distress case with one of our experienced and passionate attorneys. Se habla español.