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Emotional Damages Only? Yes, You Can Get Compensation


When you are injured in an accident, it is natural to assume that you won’t have just physical injuries—you’ll have some emotional trauma as well. That could be depression, forgetfulness or anxiety over the accident and your injuries. But what happens when you only have emotional trauma? Can you recover damages from an accident that doesn’t harm or even touch you physically, but is so overwhelmingly devastating, that it causes you emotional trauma?

How to Get Emotional Damages with No Physical Injury

Courts are always hesitant to award damages for only emotional trauma, because unlike physical damages, there is no scan or medical test to “see” anxiety or depression or PTSD, the way there is when there are physical injuries.

But the law does allow accident victims to recover for emotional-only damages, in limited cases.

To get emotional damages, without any physical impact or injury, the victim must show:

1)      That the Defendant’s behavior was not just negligent, but rather, was completely reckless, or else, intentional

2)      That the Defendant’s behavior was so outrageous, that it would not or should not be tolerated by society

3)      That the victim suffered serious mental injury or trauma

What Behavior Counts?

What is behavior that should not be tolerated by society? That is ultimately up to a jury to decide, but suffice to say, the Defendant would have to do something that is shocking. Some typical examples might be:

  • Telling someone that they had a terminal disease by accident, when in fact, they do not
  • Leaving a foreign object in food that is repulsive, or potentially, dangerous
  • Anything related to dead bodies, such mixing up headstones, or mishandling of bodies
  • Watching or witnessing an accident to a close relative like a child

Proving the Trauma and Severity

When it comes to showing damages, there is no absolute definitive way that a victim must show the severity of mental injuries, and there is not even a requirement that medical treatment be shown (although that is always the best evidence, and from a health standpoint, it is always a good idea to get medical treatment for emotional trauma).

A victim can show that he or she has physical manifestations of the emotional trauma, like forgetfulness, losing weight, or nausea. A victim can show how the mental trauma has affected his or her ability to carry on daily activities or to do work. A victim may be able to show things like recurring nightmares, spontaneous crying or anger, or addiction that is related to the emotional trauma.

Testimony of the victim, as well as his or her family or friends or co-workers can be used to show the jury the severity of the mental trauma or impairment.

Many accident victims feel like if they only have emotional trauma, with no physical injury, that the damages are “just in their head.” Don’t minimize emotional trauma. You can be compensated for what you’re going through.

Call the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, if you have suffered mental or emotional trauma because of any kind of accident. We can help.



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