Can You Sue for Emotional Distress After a Car Accident in Florida?

January 21, 2022 | Firm News

Car accidents in Florida can leave victims with physical injuries, including scars, fractured bones, and other more serious harm. If another driver caused the accident, the injured victim might be able to sue to be compensated for their medical expenses and other financial losses. However, many people walk away from a serious car accident suffering depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions that are not physical. Usually, these conditions are called “pain and suffering.” A victim is also entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering, including their emotional distress. Below, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers from Newman Injury Law discusses pain and suffering in more detail.

Pain and Suffering After a Florida Car Accident

Under Florida law, when someone is injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another party, they have a right to sue that party for two broad types of damages. The first type is economic damages, or the financial losses the victim suffered because of the injury. Typically, a victim’s economic damages are medical expenses, lost income, and other quantifiable costs associated with the injury.

Non-economic damages are different and harder to define. Commonly referred to as “pain and suffering,” these types of damages include hard to quantify harm such as mental distress and the loss of the capacity to enjoy life.

Because pain and suffering damages are subjective and challenging to calculate, they are sometimes called intangible damages. Florida law recognizes both mental and physical harm under pain and suffering. This means an accident victim could recover for their emotional distress, anxiety, and their physical pain and discomfort caused by the trauma they endured. It is not uncommon for an accident victim to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a serious crash or to suffer years of painful discomfort because of an injury. Our Hallandale Beach car accident lawyer will work closely with you to evaluate your emotional distress and physical suffering.

Florida’s Injury Threshold for Emotional Distress Claims in a Car Accident Lawsuit

Florida requires motorists to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury coverage. In addition to personal injury protection (PIP), Florida law also mandates that drivers have $10,000 in property damage coverage. Florida is also a “no-fault” accident state. This means that a driver’s PIP coverage would pay for their damages in an accident no matter who caused the crash. PIP will provide compensation for medical expenses, disability benefits if the injury impacts a person’s ability to work, and death benefits for the family if the injuries are fatal. However, PIP does not provide compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress. An accident victim is permitted to pursue additional damages in a personal injury lawsuit only if their injuries meet Florida’s injury threshold.

Under Florida law, an accident victim has the right to sue for their emotional distress if their injuries resulted in a permanent loss of function, scarring or permanent disfigurement, or death. Only if our Hollywood, FL car accident lawyer can establish that your injuries meet the required threshold could you pursue compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other intangible damages associated with your injuries.

Proving Emotional Distress in a Florida Accident Lawsuit

Whether you are negotiating with an insurance company or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, the burden of proof for establishing that you meet the threshold falls on the victim. Florida law requires a plaintiff to present clear and credible evidence of the severity of the injury. Compensation will not be awarded on uncertainty or speculation.

Our Florida car accident and personal injury attorney in Hallandale Beach will thoroughly investigate the accident and gather evidence to support your claim. Some evidence used to establish the level of pain you are experiencing includes obvious things such as prescriptions for pain medication or a doctor’s written assessment of your condition. It is not uncommon for a car accident’s physician to testify to the extent of the victim’s injuries and to offer an opinion on the long-term adverse physical impact of the injury.

Physical injuries are tangible and our office can further support them with photographs or other documentary evidence. However, emotional distress is much more difficult to prove. Evaluating and providing proof for anxiety, depression, of the loss of enjoyment of life is complicated. In many cases, expert testimony from a medical professional or health care provider is necessary to establish the effects of an accident on the victim.

Evidence to Establish Emotional Distress in a Florida Car Accident Lawsuit

There is no statutory list of what documents and evidence are necessary to establish a car accident victim’s emotional distress. However, there are some common types of evidence our Hollywood, FL personal injury attorney will use to help establish and evaluate the effects of your injury.

Your doctor or any other treating medical professional is a crucial resource. In addition to possibly testifying, every treating physician should provide a written statement explaining the pain and suffering you are experiencing and will likely experience in the future. A written opinion from a psychiatrist could also prove invaluable when building a mental suffering claim.

Medication is often prescribed to help alleviate physical pain. It is also prescribed to help a car accident victim cope with anxiety, depression, and other mental conditions resulting from the crash or injury.

Testimony from the accident victim is also important. A creditable and sincere explanation of the actual symptoms you are experiencing could go a long way with a jury.

To help understand how an injury impacted your life, the testimony of friends, family members, and other people who have first-hand knowledge of the adverse effects the injury had on you are vital. Accounts of how your injury impacted your day-to-day activities often paint a persuasive picture.

While every injury and person is unique, others have suffered similar injuries. Our South Florida and Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney will often turn to peer studies, reports, or other documentation to demonstrate how specific injuries impact others in similar circumstances.

Call Our Florida Car Accident Lawyer to Schedule a Free Consultation

Many car accident victims are severely injured. However, the physical pain is only part of the total suffering a car accident victim undergoes. The emotional distress and mental anguish associated with a car accident also significantly impact a victim. Our Hollywood, FL personal injury attorneys at Newman Injury Law are dedicated to helping victims receive the compensation they deserve for their physical and emotional injuries. If you or a loved one were hurt in a car accident, call our office at 954-495-8500 to schedule a free legal consultation.

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