If you have been injured in an accident, you may be dealing with far more than physical injuries. Emotionally, you may feel like you’re not yourself anymore. This may mean you are dealing with mental anguish—and you may have a right to make an injury claim and recover money. A good Atlanta lawyer can help you file your mental anguish claim and get the largest settlement possible.
Our lawyers can help. Our goal with every client is to understand what you’re going through, put hard evidence behind it, and get you the money you need to rebuild your life. We offer a FREE consultation to discuss your injuries, answer your questions, and help you decide if you have a claim. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.
How is a mental anguish claim different than other types of accident claims?
Mental anguish claims are different than ordinary accident claims in two important ways. First, an ordinary accident claim is designed to get you money to cover your hard costs—medical bills, car repairs, and physical therapy. You may also make a claim for money to make up for the pay you lost if you were out of work because of the accident. With these “special damages,” there are bills and pay stubs to prove your losses. But it’s harder to prove emotional damages, or to place a dollar value on them.
Mental anguish claims are also different because Georgia has what’s known as the “impact rule.” This means a mental anguish or “emotional distress” claim is only valid if there was an impact to your body, the impact caused an injury, and you have emotional issues because of the injury. Therefore, you usually must have suffered a physical injury before you can make a mental anguish claim. The impact rule prevents bystanders and witnesses from making claims for their emotional trauma.
Even with these limits, however, it’s important to know three things:
- Emotional damages are considered real, valid losses under the law
- You do have a right to recover money for your mental anguish
- A good lawyer can help you prove your mental anguish case beyond a doubt
What injuries are covered in a mental anguish accident claim?
A mental anguish claim can include any mental effects that are the result of an accident. Mental anguish claims are most common in accidents where the victim has also suffered serious physical injuries. Some common mental anguish injuries include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Anxiety and fear
- Uncontrollable crying
- Humiliation, such as from having disfiguring scars
- Difficulty adjusting to life with a disability or severe injury
It’s important to remember that people suffering from mental anguish are strong, capable people. We are all human, and no one can withstand a traumatic event or a life-changing injury without feeling some emotional effects—it’s normal. The money that you receive in a mental anguish claim can help you feel less powerless about your situation and give you the resources to get good treatment.
How much money can I recover for a mental anguish claim?
The amount of money you might receive in a mental anguish claim can vary greatly, depending on how severely the accident affected you. Mental anguish is usually part of a claim for “pain and suffering.” Pain and suffering claims place a dollar value on your physical pain and the accident’s effect on your everyday life. Because there is no simple way to total up the effect of anxiety, insomnia or depression, mental anguish damages can be hard to calculate.
Insurance companies usually approach mental anguish and pain and suffering claims by assigning a multiplier from 1 to 5 (1 is the least severe and 5 is the worst). Then they total up your “special damages” such as lost wages and medical bills, and multiply by that number. In other words, mental anguish can double or triple your settlement amount—or more.
The insurance company already offered me money. How can a lawyer help me?
If an insurance company offered you money, chances are it didn’t include money for your emotional injuries. Insurance companies want to avoid paying out more than they have to, and one way they do this is to minimize the impact the accident has had on your life.
A lawyer can gather information showing that you have a legitimate mental anguish claim. This might involve sending you to a psychologist or psychiatrist, getting statements from friends and family who have witnessed your distress or changes in your personality, and having you keep a journal to record your emotional reactions. A lawyer can also connect you with professionals who can help you overcome the effects of the accident.
Once your lawyer has assembled evidence proving your mental anguish, he or she can take this information to the insurance company. Confronted with hard evidence of your distress, the insurance company is likely to make an offer that includes emotional distress damages—potentially getting you as much as two or three times what the insurance company originally offered.
How do I know if I have a valid mental anguish claim?
If you were physically hurt in an accident, and it wasn’t your fault, then you probably also have a mental anguish claim. In general, the more serious your physical injuries, the stronger your claim will be. An insurance company isn’t likely to question your mental anguish if you suffered severe injuries that have altered the course of your life. But mental anguish can be harder to prove if you only had minor injuries. This doesn’t mean your claim isn’t valid—it just means we may need to gather more evidence to make your case.
In some cases, we can make a mental anguish claim if you suffered property damage—such as a wrecked car—even though you walked away with no injuries. The key to making a claim like this is that your emotional injuries must have been directly caused by the loss you suffered in the accident. For example, if a beloved pet died in the accident, you might have a claim because your mental distress was directly related to the loss of your pet.
If you did not suffer any physical injuries and did not lose property as a result of an impact, you probably do not have a valid mental anguish claim—even though you may be feeling a very real emotional impact. If you think you might have a claim, we suggest that you see a car accident lawyer near Atlanta Georgia right away. Because mental anguish can be hard to prove, it is important to begin collecting evidence as soon as possible. And getting good mental health care is often key to recovering fully from your emotional injuries.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers listen. We take your side. And we have decades of experience winning mental anguish claims for our clients. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything unless we win you money. Let us give you a FREE consultation. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.