When I speak with a potential or existing personal injury client, I’m always sure to ask about their mental state since the accident or event giving rise to their physical injuries. Quite often, clients either overlook anxiety or dismiss it as a natural byproduct of life. Physical injuries are tangible and more ‘real’ to us, while anxiety can seem like our own inability to deal with life—clients often feel guilty discussing this, but it’s important.
Emotional Distress Affects Your Pain and Suffering Demand
Anxiety, loss of sleep, depression—these can all be very real conditions directly related to the physical injury a personal injury client has sustained. Absent a compelling reason for not including it, the client’s personal injury claim should have a demand for pain and suffering incorporated into it.
Proving Anxiety or Emotional Suffering
While it is much easier to prove that a car accident led to a head injury or another injury diagnosed by a physician, it can be more challenging to establish the existence of anxiety or emotional suffering. If your personal injury attorney is negotiating a claim on your behalf with an insurance adjuster, the adjuster is going to need to be presented with some evidence of the claim for emotional suffering.
Every Demand Tells A Story
Your personal injury attorney knows that every demand presented to an insurance adjuster needs to tell a story—the client’s story. Mainly, the story is meant to illustrate how the client’s life has changed since the accident. It’s important that the personal injury attorney demonstrate vividly the loss of quality of life due to emotional distress or emotional suffering the client has experienced.
Consider a child who loved dogs and animals prior to a dog bite. The child had a household pet, numerous dog stuffed animals, and made friends with the pets of other households. Now, the child is petrified to pet any dog that is not her family dog, and is moved to tears when she’s in the same room with a dog. She also recently missed a class trip to the zoo because she was afraid the animals might bite her. There’s a story developing here.
Other Evidence Your Personal Injury Attorney Can Present
Anxiety in personal injury claims absolutely exists. Establishing hard evidence of it is something that needs to be considered early on. This is why I encourage clients to keep a journal of their physical and emotional experience from the day we begin working together. When this journal is combined with a list of prescriptions the client has been placed on to manage emotional suffering, or the narrative of a psychologist or other mental health professional, the demand for recovery for anxiety in personal injury cases starts to make sense.
How Much Is Anxiety Worth?
Your personal injury lawyer will use a formula which includes some generally accepted terms, combined with the severity of your physical injury, to determine the value of your emotional suffering. This will provide a good starting point for a discussion with the client and with the insurance adjuster, and will give meaning to the demand being made.
If you have any questions about anxiety in personal injury, or personal injury claims in general, please call me at 704.749.7747. I’m here to help.