Damages in a personal injury case are the remedy given to the injured party. Since the court cannot undo the injury, providing monetary compensation for the losses and harm is the most reasonable option. 

An injured party can seek reimbursement for economic damages or financial losses. They can also seek compensation for non-economic damages, which encompasses the pain and suffering they endured. Emotional distress is one type of non-economic damage included in most personal injury claims.

What Is Emotional Distress in a Tampa Personal Injury Case?

Emotional distress refers to the psychological harm caused by an accident or personal injury. It begins with the accident and continues through your medical treatment and recovery. Emotional distress can also include future suffering for permanent harm. 

Mental and emotional suffering can include, but is not limited to:

  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Panic attacks
  • Nightmares and night terrors
  • Embarrassment 
  • Anger and frustration
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Violent mood swings

There are many warning signs and symptoms of emotional distress. Some symptoms can be debilitating, causing the person to be unable to work or function in daily life. The event and the severity of harm is one factor that determines how a person may react emotionally to a personal injury or accident.

Can I Sue for Emotional Distress in Florida?

Florida’s personal injury laws compensate injured victims for non-economic damages, including emotional distress. However, in most cases, you must have sustained a physical injury to claim emotional distress. In Florida, this requirement is known as the Impact Rule.

The Florida Supreme Court held that emotional distress alone is difficult to prove. Therefore, it must be linked to evidence of actual physical harm. Then, the court can determine the extent of the emotional distress because of what they endured.

However, the courts have allowed for exceptions to the Impact Rule in some cases. Exceptions include:

  • Intentional torts 
  • Stillbirths and birth injuries caused by negligence or malpractice
  • Witnessing the catastrophic or violent death or injury of a family member
  • Consuming food that is contaminated
  • Disclosing the results of an HIV test in violation of Florida Statutes §381.004
  • Breach of doctor-patient confidentiality by a psychotherapist

In most personal injury cases, the victim suffers some type of physical injury and must prove it to recover damages. Prompt medical treatment after an injury or accident is crucial. Medical records can be used to establish a physical injury that a Tampa personal injury lawyer can link to the other party’s conduct.

What Is the Value of Emotional Damages in a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Florida’s no-fault insurance laws do not allow people to sue for car accidents unless they sustained serious injuries. Other types of cases do not have this stipulation on personal injury lawsuits. If the insurance company for the at-fault party refuses to pay a fair settlement amount, you can sue the person for damages. 

If you sue for emotional distress, you have the burden of proving:

  • The other party caused your injury;
  • You suffered from emotional distress; and,
  • How much your emotional distress claim is worth.

Emotional distress is subjective. Everyone reacts differently to an accident or injury. Therefore, we examine the factors in your case that support a claim for emotional distress.

Factors used to measure the extent of emotional distress include:

  • The type of injury you sustained
  • The medical treatments required for your injury
  • The duration of your recovery
  • Whether you can return to work and normal daily activities
  • The impact of the injury on your quality of life
  • Whether you sustained permanent impairment, disability, disfigurement, or scarring
  • The impact of your injury on your relationship with family members and others
  • Treatment records diagnosing you with a psychological disorder or symptoms of distress

There is no standard formula used to calculate the value of emotional distress damages. However, many courts use the multiplier method. 

The jurors consider the relevant factors of the case to assign a number between 1.5 and five for non-economic damages. The number generally increases with the severity of the injuries and the extent of the negative impact on the person’s life. 

The jury multiplies the number by the total economic damages (financial losses). The result is the value of non-economic damages, including emotional distress.

You can help your attorney prove the extent of your emotional distress by detailing your recovery in a pain and suffering journal. Your journal has details of the emotional distress you experienced after the accident and throughout your recovery. Providing vivid details helps jury members “feel” the pain you experienced after an injury. 

How Do You Prove a Party Is Liable for Damages Caused by Emotional Distress?

Most injury and accident cases are based on negligence. A party is negligent when they fail to use the same level of care an ordinary prudent person would use in a similar situation. The legal requirements for a negligence claim to establish liability for damages are:

  • Duty of Care – The other party was under a duty of care. For example, a driver has a duty to follow traffic laws. 
  • Breach of Duty – The other party’s conduct failed to meet their duty of care. For example, a driver failed to yield the right of way. The breach of duty was failing to follow Florida traffic laws for right of way.
  • Causation – The breach of duty was the proximate and direct cause of your injury. Had it not been for the driver failing to yield the right of way, the accident would not have occurred, and you would not have been injured.
  • Damages – You sustained damages because of the party’s conduct. Damages can include financial losses and pain and suffering.

Proving liability for emotional distress can be challenging. The evidence must convince a jury that there is a greater chance the party caused your injury than not. 

A Tampa personal injury lawyer investigates your claim and gathers evidence to build a case for damages. Talking to an attorney is the first step to take if you want to sue for emotional damages in Florida. 

Contact the Tampa Personal Injury Law Firm of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today

For more information, please contact the legal team of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Tampa. We have four convenient locations in Florida: Clearwater, New Port Richey, and Tampa.

We serve throughout Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, and its surrounding areas:

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
1811 N. Belcher Road, Suite I-1
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 787-2500

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Congress Ave Office
2360 Congress Avenue
Clearwater, FL 33763
(727) 591-5610

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
6601 Memorial Hwy Suite 202
Tampa, FL 33615
(813) 686-7588

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
2515 Seven Springs Blvd.
New Port Richey, FL, 34655
(727) 815-8442