How Much Can I Sue for Emotional Distress in Montana?
If you’ve been injured in an accident and are filing a personal injury claim, you have taken the first steps toward recovery. Physical harm, however, is not the only problem that accident victims face. Many personal injury claimants also find themselves struggling with emotional pain and mental distress.
In some cases, you may be able to add your emotional distress claim to your personal injury case. This will allow you to obtain financial damages for the mental and emotional symptoms you are experiencing as a result of your accident.
What Is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is a state of feeling overwhelmed, sad, anxious, or angry. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including stressful life events (like a car accident or traumatic event), mental health conditions, and physical injuries or health problems.
Emotional distress can have a significant impact on a person’s life, affecting their ability to work, sleep, and maintain relationships. If you are experiencing emotional distress, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.
It is not uncommon for people to experience emotional trauma after an injury. Motor vehicle crashes, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice can all be traumatic, life-altering events. It is normal to feel depressed, stressed, or angry after an accident.
Other common causes of mental anguish include:
- Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or job loss
- Mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Physical health problems, such as chronic pain or cancer
Emotional distress can have a significant impact on a person’s life, affecting their ability to:
- Maintain relationships
- Enjoy life
If you are experiencing emotional anguish after an accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation in the form of emotional distress damages. A personal injury attorney can help you understand your options for legal action.
Common symptoms of emotional distress
When people are experiencing emotional suffering, it may manifest itself in a variety of ways. Common symptoms include:
- Persistent anxiety or stress
- Changes in sleep habits
- Changes in eating habits (sometimes leading to weight loss or gain)
- Inability to focus
- Lack of interest in daily activities
- Flashbacks or nightmares
- Changes in mood
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Decline in school or work performance
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches, tremors, hives, or ulcers
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)
There are two types of emotional distress. Intentional infliction of emotional distress refers to emotional anguish as the result of a person’s intentional or reckless behavior. In order to prove IIED, the claimant must be able to prove the following:
- The defendant’s actions were purposeful or reckless
- The defendant displayed extreme and outrageous conduct
- The claimant’s severe emotional distress is the result of the defendant’s conduct
An example of IIED might be repeated workplace harassment, leading to extreme anxiety and paranoia.
Some cases of IIED will be easier to prove than others, depending on the conduct that led to the distress. An experienced attorney can help you determine whether you have a solid emotional distress lawsuit.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED)
NIED refers to emotional trauma that is not inflicted purposefully, but rather by a person’s failure to perform certain duties or responsibilities. While the defendant’s actions may not be intentional, their impact can be just as devastating.
For example, a driver may take their eyes off the road and swerve out of their lane, causing an auto accident. While they likely did not mean to cause a crash, the victims’ physical pain and mental suffering are no less real than if they had.
The bystander lawsuit
The bystander lawsuit is a subset of NIED cases. If you were not personally involved in an accident, but you witnessed a family member’s accident, you may still be entitled to damages for the emotional harm you experience as a result.
For example, if you were standing on a street corner while your mother crossed the road and you saw a car hit her, you may experience severe emotional trauma as a result, even though you were not physically harmed.
How Much Can I Sue for an Emotional Distress Claim in Montana?
Every personal injury lawsuit is different. The amount of compensation you can seek will depend on several factors. You may be able to seek compensation for economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage, as well as non-economic damages, like pain and suffering and emotional anguish.
Some emotional distress cases have settled for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Proving an emotional distress case, however, is not always an easy task. It may require proof of medical treatment, expert witnesses, or other evidence.
The best way to know how much you can seek in your personal injury claim is to speak with an experienced attorney. They can offer sound legal advice and help you understand your options.
How Can a Montana Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?
If you or a family member is struggling with emotional distress after an accident, it may be time to contact an attorney. Attempting to fight an emotional distress case on your own can be frustrating, stressful, and detrimental to your recovery.
The Advocates personal injury law firm can help. We will help you build your case, including compiling evidence, keeping track of medical records, and negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company. With an Advocate on your side, you only need to focus on feeling better–we’ll take care of the rest.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation. You deserve an attorney who will put your well-being first. You deserve an Advocate.