After an Accident, Can You Sue a Trucking Company for Emotional Distress?
Truck accidents are taxing and dangerous, not just for the body, but also for the mind. When you are in a car accident, especially one that involves a semi-truck, you might face some of the greatest fear and danger in your life. In general, any of the effects of someone’s negligence can entitle you to compensation, including your emotional trauma. If you have been in an accident with a truck, talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer about what kind of damages you might be entitled to. No matter where your truck accident occurred in the United States, call the Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team for a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer about your case.
What is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress can refer to a few things under the law. First is a type of case called “infliction of emotional distress.” Many states allow lawsuits for both “intentional” and “negligent” infliction of emotional distress. These are relatively rare lawsuits, and usually require truly outrageous conduct to prove intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Negligent infliction of emotional distress is more common, especially in situations where you witnessed the death of a loved one. This type of case varies from state to state. Some states require that you suffered some injury yourself, or that you were in the “zone of danger” when your loved one was killed. Others simply require that you witnessed the tragic death of a loved one in an accident.
If your loved one was killed in an accident with a truck, you may have a case for negligent infliction of emotional distress against the truck driver and their employer. Especially if you were in the car with your loved one when they died, you might be entitled to damages for having seen your loved one die.
Much more commonly, “emotional distress” refers to the mental anguish and emotional pain you face as a result of an accident. For a truck accident, your injuries may be quite painful and cause you distress. Additionally, you could suffer emotional pain or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the incident. PTSD is commonly discussed for veterans and others who have been through traumatic events like war, but PTSD also affects victims of injury and crime at an alarming rate.
Some states require that you suffered physical injuries as well, in order to recover for emotional distress. Those states tie the emotional distress to the injury under the title of “pain and suffering.” You can usually recover, in any state, compensation to make up for your pain. Some states limit your recovery for mental anguish to this anguish related to your pain.
In other states, you can recover purely for the mental and emotional trauma of the accident. For many, this might include therapy costs. Many people might be afraid to get back into a car after something as traumatic as a severe car accident, and may be entitled to damages for that, as well.
Proving Emotional Distress
Getting a court to understand your emotional distress might be difficult. Because of this, some states require that you prove the physical effects of emotional distress in order to get compensation for the mental effects. Things like shaking, illness, lack of sleep, and other bodily effects would be enough to meet this physical requirement.
In other states that allow recovery for purely mental, emotional, or psychological pain, proof often requires the opinion of an expert. If you are suffering emotional trauma from a truck accident, your lawyer might advise you to see a psychologist or psychiatrist. These kinds of mental health professionals can help explain your mental/emotional suffering to a jury in ways that you might not be able to explain. Some courts may actually require this kind of proof before you can get compensation for your emotional distress.
Emotional distress may also be an effect of losing someone you love. If your parent, child, or spouse died in a truck accident, your grief may be part of the damages the court requires the trucking company to pay to you. This can include loss of companionship, loss of advice and counsel, loss of intimacy, and other losses you experience when you lose a loved one. It can also include the cost of therapy, such as grief counseling, to help you cope with their death.
As long as the state allows you to sue for emotional damages, you can sue the trucking company for that emotional distress. The trucking company is often held responsible for truck accidents and their effects, which include emotional effects as well as physical effects.
Talk to an Attorney about Compensation for Emotional Pain
If you have been involved in an accident with a truck anywhere in the country, contact The Reiff Law Firm. If you are suffering from emotional pain, our truck accident lawyers might be able to get you the compensation you need. Especially if you have lost a loved one or suffer from PTSD, much of your case may be based on pain no one else can see. Our attorneys can help tell your story. Call us today at (215) 246-9000.