Can You Sue for Emotional Distress After an Accident in California?

Emotional distress

When you’ve been in an accident, it can be very scary. Not only are you often left to deal with physical injuries, but you may also be left with lingering mental and emotional scares as well. Feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, confusion, and even post-traumatic stress can negatively impact just about every aspect of your life, sometimes making them more burdensome than any physical harm done. 

Luckily, the state of California acknowledges the importance of recovery from mental and emotional suffering post-accident. That’s why you can sue for emotional stress in the state of California. However, there are specific limits to this ability. Unfortunately, many insurance companies do everything in their power to avoid paying for emotional distress after an accident, even when these damages are available under the law. 

Types of Damages

When you are injured in an accident due to the negligent or reckless actions of someone else, you may receive damages in the state of California. There are three different types of damages that may be available to you:

  1. Economic damages
  2. Non-economic damages
  3. Punitive damages

1. Economic Damages

Economic damages are essentially monetary compensation for your financial losses that have been caused by your injury. For example:

  • Medical bills 
    • Medications
    • Surgeries
    • Hospital stays
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished property value

2. Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially monetary compensation for your emotional distress, which often makes up a large portion of your award. For example:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Depression 
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium (loss of relationships)

3. Punitive Damages

Punitive damages include money that is awarded not to compensate for the plaintiff’s harm, but to punish the defendant for his or her egregious actions. Punitive damages are not commonly available. 

Does Emotional Distress Require a Physical Injury?

While most cases for emotional distress still include a physical injury, it is still possible to sue for emotional distress when there has been no physical harm. However, this is limited to specific situations, such as the following:

  • You witnessed a family member or close friend being physically injured or killed;
  • You developed a disorder as a result of the defendant’s actions;
  • You were placed in imminent fear for your physical safety;
  • You are put in imminent fear for your physical safety; or
  • The defendant defamed your character. 

However, it’s important to note that your right to sue for emotional distress often depends upon other related circumstances. A qualified attorney can help you to understand your options.

Contact a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney

If you have suffered emotional harm after an accident, it can take a big toll on your life. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. 

At the Law Offices of David P. Kashani, our experienced California personal injury lawyers work strategically to help our clients obtain just compensation. When you become our client, you will have peace of mind knowing that our legal team is on your side. We will guide you through all aspects of your wrongful death claim. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

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