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The Psychological Impact of Personal Injuries: Addressing Emotional Trauma in Legal Claims

Psychological impact of personal injuries

Cuts, bruises, and broken bones can be agonizing. Yet, over time, most people make a full recovery, and the memory of the pain gradually fades away. Tragically, though, for some personal injury victims, the psychological impact of an accident can continue for months or even years.

The good news is that mental health treatment could help you overcome your emotional injuries and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Additionally, a personal injury lawyer may be able to make an emotional distress claim as part of a personal injury lawsuit.

Join us as we take a closer look at emotional challenges that commonly arise after suffering a physical injury and how a personal injury lawyer could help you get justice.

You Are Not Alone

If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or suffering other emotional challenges following a severe accident, rest assured that this is normal and experienced by many. For example, one study found the following about motor vehicle accident survivors:

  • Up to 67 percent experience depressive moods
  • Up to 47 percent have increased anxiety and fear of driving
  • Up to 40 percent suffer from PTSD

It is natural to focus on taking care of our physical health after an accident. However, for many of us, working with mental health professionals could also help. Records of therapy sessions and medical treatment for post-accident mental health issues could also strengthen your case for pain and suffering compensation in a personal injury claim.

Common Psychological Trauma After Personal Injuries

Whether your accident occurred at work, in a car, or elsewhere, the psychological impact can be just as great or worse than your physical injuries. Even if you are not seriously injured, witnessing a traumatic event – such as a fatal car accident – can cause ongoing psychological distress.

Some of the most common conditions include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): This mental health condition can develop quickly after traumatic events or can come on months or years later. It can cause difficulty sleeping, nightmares, flashbacks, loneliness, and many other symptoms. Additionally, individuals with PTSD are more likely to develop panic disorders. PTSD symptoms must last for more than 1 month to be considered such. Treatment options include talk therapy and cognitive processing therapy (CPT). 
  • Depression and anxiety: While depression and anxiety disorders are common after personal injuries, certain traumatic injuries put people at even higher risk. These include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and spinal cord injuries. According to WebMD, orthopedic injuries that affect bones, joints, and ligaments can lead to major depression in about one-third of cases.
  • Guilt and anger: Surviving a serious accident can bring guilt and shame. We may feel that we could have done something to prevent it or feel guilty that we survived when others did not. We may also have to deal with anger toward the other party involved in the accident.
  • Withdrawal and social isolation: Prolonged recovery periods can make socializing with our friends and family more difficult. We may no longer be able to participate in the activities we love. Additionally, we may experience anxiety about the extra support we have to request from our loved ones. This could escalate into isolation and its associated psychological consequences.

In addition to stress arising from the accident, we may quickly experience financial stress. Mounting medical expenses and time away from work can seriously affect our emotional well-being. Thankfully, Massachusetts law allows personal injury victims to pursue both economic and non-economic damages to cover the entire impact of their accident.

Emotional Distress and the Law

Massachusetts law has specific statutes that protect people if they have suffered emotional distress. Some of these cover the intentional infliction of emotional distress, while others look at its negligent infliction. 

In many personal injury cases, the other party did not intend to cause emotional distress. Usually, negligent or reckless actions lead to you getting injured. However, although the acts may not have been intentional, the other person could still have anticipated the harm he or she could cause.

Therefore, if a personal injury attorney can prove that the person acted negligently and that negligence caused your injuries and emotional distress, you may be entitled to compensation.

Building a strong emotional distress claim

All personal injury claims are built around four legal points:

  1. Duty of care: The other party had a duty of care toward you
  2. Breach: By his or her willful or negligent actions, he or she breached that duty of care
  3. Cause: The negligent actions were the direct cause of injuries and/or emotional distress
  4. Damages: The negligent actions resulted in losses for which the injured party is entitled to financial compensation

Gathering evidence

To build a strong case, you will need to prove the link between your injuries and the emotional distress you suffered. 

Possible forms of evidence could include:

  • Medical records: Therapy sessions, prescriptions, and other appointments with mental health professionals
  • Changes in your personal life: Evidence of the impact of your accident on your family and other personal relationships
  • Changes in your professional life: Proof that the psychological trauma of the accident has disrupted your work
  • Pain journals: A daily log of your chronic pain and emotional state to document the pain and suffering your injuries have caused
  • Witness statements: Others who have witnessed your emotional state through the recovery process may be able to testify to the suffering you have endured

How a personal injury lawyer can help

It is a challenge to build strong emotional distress claims that stand up in court. If you choose to represent yourself, it may be very difficult to establish a clear link between your injuries and the psychological impact they have had. Insurance companies may be quick to downplay or dismiss such links to limit the amount of compensation they will pay.

While emotional injuries are challenging to prove, working with a compassionate yet tenacious personal injury lawyer may give you a better chance of success. He or she will have experience in building strong cases for compensation. 

Your attorney may also call on expert witnesses who can testify to the psychological distress injuries like yours can cause. This could help you build a strong case that stands up in court or throughout negotiations.

Seek Justice for Emotional Trauma With Kiley Law Group

A traumatic accident could rob you of your peace of mind for a time. However, when someone else’s negligence caused your accident, you should not have to shoulder that burden alone. 

You are entitled to recover compensation so you can get the medical treatment you need.

To do this, you need more than just a kind lawyer who sympathizes with your condition. You need a winner on your side – a personal injury lawyer with a track record of fighting for fair compensation that helps clients rebuild their lives.

Kiley Law Group personal injury lawyers have already secured over $1 billion in compensation for our clients. Our lawyers truly care – and we show it by fighting tooth and nail for our clients’ rights. That includes ensuring that settlements take into account the emotional symptoms they have suffered. 

Our lawyers are ready to hear your story and explain your legal rights. Schedule your free legal consultation by calling (978) 965-3228. Our lines are open 24 hours a day. Alternatively, contact us online, and we will be in touch as soon as possible.