Under Florida law, car accident victims can recover damages from an at-fault party for both physical and emotional injuries. However, the state law requires that a person must have suffered physical harm—or an “impact” of some kind—in order to get payment for emotional distress. While it can be possible to recover compensation for mental anguish without a physical injury, such cases are extremely rare.
How to Prove Emotional Distress Due to a Car Accident
Unlike a broken bone or ruptured disc, it can be difficult to prove the extent and effects of an emotional injury. The suffering in these cases is entirely personal, with effects ranging from insomnia and anxiety to a complete inability to live a normal life. In order to win compensation, a victim must provide evidence of the emotional conditions:
- Intensity. Most courts won't award compensation for mental anguish that's short-lived or doesn't cause any significant hardship. You'll have to show that your psychological condition is ongoing, and that it's strong enough to make normal everyday tasks difficult. Medical opinions from your therapist, a licensed counselor, psychiatrist, or another medical provider can be useful in demonstrating how your mental and emotional state is affecting your quality of life.
- Underlying cause. Comparing past behavior to a person’s state after the crash is an effective way to show the trauma is accident-related. For example, victims suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a car accident may have flashbacks to the night of the crash, fear getting into cars, and be unable to go to work—things they had no difficulty with prior to the accident.
- Physical symptoms. Emotional trauma can cause physical side effects, including chronic headaches, rashes, hair loss, ulcers, and other signs of distress. If you're being treated for emotional problems with prescription medications, be sure to include any debilitating side effects of the drugs, such as nausea, lack of sexual desire, or fatigue.
Compensation for the emotional effects of a crash can include damages for lost enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, ongoing psychiatric treatment, and more. If you're considering a claim for emotional distress, fill out the form on this page to set up your free consultation with an attorney.