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Emotional Distress vs. Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

Posted on 10/04/22

Anytime an individual sustains an injury caused by the negligence of another individual or entity, they should be able to recover various types of compensation for their losses. This includes not only compensation for calculable expenses such as medical bills and lost wages but also a range of non-economic, more immeasurable losses. This can consist of various types of pain and suffering, under which emotional distress is included.

What are Non-Economic Losses?

Non-economic losses are an important part of a personal injury or wrongful death of the settlement. Non-economic losses are under the umbrella of what we call “compensable losses,” under which economic damages are also included. Economic losses focus on the calculable losses that individuals experience after an injury or wrongful death, while the non-economic damages focus on the types of losses that are relatively immeasurable but equally as important.

Some of the most common types of non-economic damages that personal injury victims and wrongful death plaintiffs recover compensation for include:

  • Physical pain and suffering damages
  • Compensation for disfigurement or scarring
  • Emotional and psychological pain and suffering damages
  • Loss of quality of life damages
  • Loss of consortium for a spouse or family members

We will see that emotional distress is just one part of the overall non-economic damages commonly sought for a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

What is Emotional Distress After an Injury?

Defining emotional distress can be challenging because this type of pain and suffering may or may not revolve around actual physical injuries. Emotional distress can be caused by the original incident, the injuries, the recovery process, and the fact that a person may not be able to live life the same way as a result of the injuries.

Mental and emotional distress can include a range of symptoms, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Humiliation
  • Torment
  • Anguish

These damages all focus on how a person is affected emotionally, not physically. For example, emotional distress will not include compensation for headaches or back pain. Even though physical injuries can contribute to the mental and emotional distress, they are not actually emotional distress damages. Physical injury compensation is covered elsewhere.

Working With an Attorney to Secure Fair Compensation

If you or somebody you love has sustained an injury caused by the negligent actions of another individual or business, it is important to work with an attorney who can help adequately calculate total expected losses. This includes economic damages that we briefly mentioned above as well as the full range of non-economic damages. Pain and suffering losses, such as emotional distress, are just as important to calculate correctly as the economic losses, and they are often worth more than the economic claims.

An attorney will work with trusted medical and psychological experts to adequately calculate non-economic and emotional distress damages to ensure that you are fairly compensated. There is no set amount of compensation paid to personal injury victims for emotional distress, but an attorney may use a multiplier method where they calculate the total economic losses and then multiply that by a set number to arrive at a fair non-economic compensation amount.