Auto accidents are traumatic experiences, leaving many visible wounds. Yet, what’s often neglected are the emotional and psychological scars left behind. At Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., we understand that the repercussions of an accident don’t stop with physical injuries. This post delves into the emotional toll of auto accidents and how they play a pivotal role in personal injury claims.
What is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress can be described as a range of psychological reactions experienced after a traumatic event. It encompasses various responses like fear, insomnia, anxiety, depression, traumatic flashbacks, or even phobias related to the car accident. While these symptoms might not be physically evident, they can profoundly impact a victim’s quality of life.
Why Include Emotional Distress in Your Claim?
Emotional damages, though intangible, are real. They can:
- Hinder your daily activities
- Prevent return to work, resulting in lost wages
- Strain personal relationships
- Result in expenses from therapy or counseling
Considering these consequences, it’s imperative to ensure that emotional distress is accounted for in your compensation.
The Psychological Impact of Auto Accidents
When most people think of auto accidents, they imagine broken bones, cuts, and physical therapy. However, the aftermath can be far-reaching, affecting victims emotionally and psychologically. Several psychological conditions can arise from such traumatic events:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Many victims relive the traumatic event repeatedly in their minds. They might experience nightmares, severe anxiety, or even flashbacks.
- Depression: Coping with physical injuries, medical bills, and the inability to work or go about daily routines can lead to feelings of hopelessness and sadness.
- Anxiety and Phobias: Some individuals develop an intense fear of driving or even being in vehicles after an accident.
- Chronic Pain and Suffering: Beyond the immediate pain from injuries, some victims experience long-term discomfort that isn’t always physical. This chronic pain often has a psychological component.
Including Emotional Distress in Your Claim
While New Jersey law acknowledges physical injuries in personal injury claims, it’s essential to understand that emotional and psychological damages are just as valid. Emotional distress is a genuine injury that can be quantified and included in a compensation claim. Here’s how:
- Medical and Therapeutic Records: Just as you would provide medical reports for physical injuries, records from psychologists or therapists can validate emotional suffering. It’s crucial to seek professional help post-accident if you’re experiencing any emotional or psychological distress.
- Personal Diary or Journal: A daily account of your feelings, experiences, and struggles post-accident can provide a detailed narrative of the trauma you are undergoing. This account can substantiate the depth and continuity of your emotional pain.
- Witness Testimonies: Friends, family members, or coworkers can attest to the behavioral changes or daily life disruptions they’ve noticed in you post-accident. Their testimonies can reinforce the authenticity of your emotional distress claim.
- Quantifying Emotional Distress: While it may seem challenging, emotional distress can be quantified in financial terms, often by considering therapy costs, medication costs, lost wages, and the general pain and suffering experienced by the victim.
Legal Precedents in New Jersey
In the complex realm of personal injury law, precedents play a pivotal role. They act as guiding beacons for future cases, particularly in states like New Jersey that operate under a case law or “common law” system. For victims of auto accidents in New Jersey, understanding these precedents can be invaluable, especially when navigating claims that may include components like emotional distress or other non-tangible damages.
The Importance of Legal Precedents
Legal precedents are previously decided cases that establish a rule or principle for subsequent cases. In essence, they help ensure consistency and predictability in the legal system.
Key New Jersey Case Examples Illustrating Auto Accident Laws
Recognition of Emotional Distress
New Jersey’s legal landscape has been shaped by several case examples where the courts have recognized the right to compensation for emotional distress, separate from physical harm. These examples were instrumental in acknowledging the impact of psychological trauma, such as PTSD, which can arise from vehicular incidents.
Understanding the Verbal Threshold
In the context of New Jersey’s “no-fault” insurance system, case examples have been essential in illustrating the conditions under which an individual can pursue a claim for pain and suffering against another driver. To cross the “verbal threshold,” it is necessary to demonstrate that the accident led to a substantial or lasting injury. The insights gained from these examples have been pivotal in defining the scope of what constitutes a significant injury within the legal framework.
Clarification of Comparative Negligence
Through various case examples, New Jersey’s modified comparative negligence rule has been expounded upon. These examples have elucidated how compensation can be adjusted based on an individual’s degree of fault in an accident. They have reinforced the principle that while a victim’s recovery may be diminished by their share of fault, they retain the right to compensation if they are less than 50% responsible for the incident.
The Role of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
The importance of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage has been underscored by case examples where the courts have had to decide on the obligations of insurance companies. These decisions have clarified that insurers are expected to cover the shortfall when damages exceed the at-fault party’s policy limits, up to the contracted coverage ceiling.
Emotional Distress Without Physical Harm
In certain case examples, New Jersey courts have set a precedent by ruling that indirect victims, such as a mother who witnesses her child’s anguish due to a negligent act, may be entitled to compensation for emotional distress, even in the absence of direct physical injury to herself. These examples have been critical in expanding the understanding of who may be considered a victim and what types of suffering are compensable under the law.
Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. for a Free Consultation About Your Case Today
Auto accidents are harrowing experiences, with effects reaching far beyond the physical realm. At Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., we firmly believe that victims deserve compensation for not just their visible wounds but for the emotional and psychological traumas they endure.
If you or a loved one has suffered an auto accident and are grappling with its emotional aftermath, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to the experienced attorneys at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. We’re here to ensure that your voice is heard and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today. Your emotional well-being is just as important as your physical recovery.