Compensation for Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Case in Connecticut

Personal Injury On Monday, March 7, 2022

Being involved in an accident in Connecticut can result in more than just physical injuries and financial costs. Many victims also experience significant emotional distress, both from the trauma of the accident as well as the accompanying injuries. In Connecticut, a plaintiff has the right to seek financial compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish after a preventable accident. Whether or not the claim gets paid, however, depends on the circumstances.

Can You Be Compensated for Emotional Distress?

Yes, it is possible to collect financial compensation for emotional distress with a personal injury claim in Connecticut. After a traumatic event such as a car accident, dog bite injury, or slip and fall, you may qualify for compensation for the noneconomic damages associated with the incident. These are also referred to as intangible or general losses. They include physical pain, but can also refer to the emotional and psychological side of an accident and injury, such as:

  • Mental anguish
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Terror
  • Psychological harm
  • Trauma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Shock
  • Isolation
  • Confusion
  • Humiliation
  • Frustration
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Grief
  • Suicidal thoughts

Whether a claimant qualifies for emotional distress damages will depend on the situation. In general, it is easier to claim compensation for emotional distress if it is accompanied by a physical injury. Claiming emotional distress without a physical injury is possible in Connecticut, however, as state law does not require bodily harm to file a claim.

Compensation for emotional distress requires a plaintiff to prove that the defendant breached a duty of care and that the emotional distress would not have happened but for this breach of duty. In other words, the defendant failed to use an appropriate amount of care, and this resulted in the victim’s emotional distress. Some cases also require proof of foreseeability; the emotional distress suffered must have been a foreseeable outcome of the defendant’s actions.

How Do You Prove Emotional Distress?

If you file a personal injury claim in pursuit of monetary damages for emotional distress, be prepared to prove this type of loss based on clear and convincing evidence. Emotional distress is not as easy to prove or document as bodily harm. The insurance company may try to argue that your emotional distress is being exaggerated or does not exist. You may need an attorney to help you gather evidence to prove your emotional distress, such as:

  • Medical records from a psychiatrist or psychologist
  • The severity of a physical injury, if present
  • Accounts from friends and family members
  • Testimony from the victim
  • Opinions from medical experts
  • The victim’s injury journal

Any information or accounts that can prove you suffered changes to your mood, behavior or personality from before the accident to after the accident can support your claim. Obtaining an official diagnosis for a mental health condition such as anxiety or PTSD can also strengthen your claim to damages. Seek treatment from a mental health professional as soon as possible after an accident to start gathering evidence of emotional distress.

What Is the Average Settlement for Emotional Distress?

The value of a claim involving emotional distress in Connecticut will depend on the facts that are unique to you. Some clients receive several thousand dollars for mild to moderate losses, while other pain and suffering awards can exceed $1 million for catastrophic injuries or wrongful deaths.

It is difficult to get an accurate estimate of the value of your case without consulting an attorney. Do not trust online calculators and do not rush to accept a fast settlement from an insurance company. These mistakes could lead to you accepting less than you deserve for your emotional distress. Instead, work with a personal injury lawyer to maximize the value of your claim.

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