Filing a Claim for the Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
When most people think of the injuries sustained in an accident, they imagine physical injuries like broken bones, cuts and bruises, and concussions. While many accident victims do sustain these types of injuries, it is also common for those who are involved in especially catastrophic injuries to suffer from psychological trauma. Fortunately, it is possible to recover compensation for these types of mental injuries by filing a claim based on the negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED). Although negligent infliction of emotional distress claims have been filed for decades, this area of the law is still evolving, so it is especially critical for injured parties who are suffering from some sort of psychological trauma following an accident, to speak with a personal injury attorney who has the resources and experience necessary to successfully advocate on their behalf.
Although NIED claims are intended to help injured parties recover from emotional distress, recovery is only granted if there is evidence that the plaintiff also sustained a physical injury, as it was deemed too difficult for courts to assess whether a person was actually suffering from a purely mental or emotional injury. This means that those suffering from emotional distress after an accident can still file a claim for recovery, but only if they suffered a physical injury as a result of distress arising from witnessing the death or injury of a loved one. Generally, these injuries must be severe to justify an NIED award. In one recent case, for example, a man who claimed that he suffered hypertension and pain and suffering after watching his wife pass away while using a defective medical device was unable to recover because the physical injury was not specific or concrete enough.
Furthermore, courts limit the class of eligible claimants to those who are directly related to the injured party and were also somehow involved in the injury causing event. In most cases, the closer the emotional attachment between the victim and the witness, the stronger the claim will be. Judges also take a series of other factors into consideration when determining whether a plaintiff should recover damages for NIED, including the time between the accident and the manifestation of the plaintiff’s injury, as well as his or her proximity to the accident, and the nature of the injuries sustained. This does not mean that being in direct and immediate sight or hearing of an accident is required to establish NIED, as courts will permit plaintiffs to recover as long as there is evidence of a direct perception of the events that made up the entire accident, including the immediate aftermath.
For these reasons, proving that a plaintiff is suffering from emotional distress following an accident can be difficult, but is not impossible, especially for those with legal representation.
Call Today for Help with Your NIED Claim
If you witnessed a catastrophic accident in which a loved one was involved, you could be eligible to recover damages. Please contact the personal injury legal team in Fort Lauderdale at Boone & Davis by calling 954-566-9919 to learn more about filing your own claim.