Is Emotional Distress the Same as Pain and Suffering?

If you get into any sort of accident, you may suffer some pretty serious injuries. These can be either physical, mental or emotional. It all depends on what kind of accident you’re in. It also depends on how serious it is. Everybody reacts to an accident differently. Some people are a bit strong when it comes to dealing with tragedy. Other people may react in a more sensitive manner. When it comes to the law and negligence, you take your victim as you find them. This means that some people may suffer mental or emotional injuries worse than someone else. They can pursue the defendant for this emotional distress. But is emotional distress the same as pain and suffering?

When it comes to claiming damages for your accident, there is a difference between pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas understands this difference. They’ll evaluate your case to see what sort of damages you may be entitled to.

What is Emotional Distress?

A claim for emotional distress is a separate cause of action from simple negligence. It is usually filed in conjunction with another cause of action. For example, if someone drives drunk and crashes into an innocent victim, they may be facing two civil claims: a negligence case for the car accident and a claim for emotional distress.

Generally speaking, in order to have a claim for emotional distress, you must prove three (3) things:

  • Extreme or outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant
  • This conduct intentionally or recklessly causes either
    • Physical harm
    • Severe emotional distress.

In order to recover damages, you can’t just argue that you were emotionally disturbed by the defendant’s actions. If that were the case, almost all accident victims could make this allegation. It requires something more.

First, you have to show that the defendant’s behavior was outrageous or extreme. In the drunk driving example above, if the defendant drank a fifth of vodka and smoked crack immediately before driving, it would qualify. This behavior is clearly reckless. It is also extreme.

Second, you have to prove you were harmed. You can do this by showing actual physical harm. Or, you can show this by showing severe emotional distress.

Showing physical harm is easy. Your Las Vegas accident lawyer can submit medical records to show this. It’s harder when it comes to severe emotional distress. You have to show that the distress is extreme – worse than what a normal person would suffer after the accident.

Finally, you have to show that your harm was either intentionally or recklessly caused by the defendant. Here, your accident lawyer in Las Vegas has to submit evidence to prove this. Sometimes, the defendant’s behavior is enough to show intent.

Pain and Suffering is a Type of Damages – Not a Separate Cause of Action

Emotional distress is a separate cause of action. Pain and suffering are types of damages. For example, you can sue someone for intentional infliction of emotional distress. As a result, you may argue that you’re entitled to pain and suffering damages.

Conversely, you can’t sue someone for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering are simply damages your Las Vegas injury attorney will demand when they file your claim. In fact, your attorney may actually file a lawsuit for emotional distress and demand that you be compensated for pain and suffering.

Take the following example:

The defendant in the above example smoked crack, drank a fifth of vodka and got behind the wheel of a car. They have no insurance. They are driving a stolen car. They are driving 75 mph in a school zone when they crash into your SUV. You have your son and daughter in the back of the car.

As a result of the accident, your son will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Your daughter has suffered a traumatic brain injury and they’re unsure if she’ll ever be able to function as a normal adult.

You have suffered a broken neck, but with a series of surgeries and long-term physical therapy, you may eventually recover.

Your personal injury attorney in Las Vegas will file a claim for both the car accident and emotional distress. They will be combined in the same lawsuit. They will name pain and suffering as just one type of damages you’re entitled to.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Las Vegas

If you or your loved one are hurt in a tragic accident, you need to call an experienced injury lawyer at Nettles Morris Law Firm. When someone behaves recklessly, they need to be held accountable.

Call today and schedule your free initial consultation. And remember – you pay nothing until you settle your case.

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