Emotional Distress Claims in Personal Injury Cases in South Carolina

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The effects of any personal injury on you can be wide-ranging. Not only are you dealing with physical injuries, but you could also have suffered emotional harm, either from the accident itself or its aftermath. Most every damage suffered in a personal injury case is eligible for compensation when you can show that someone else was to blame for what happened. But you have to act first and fight for it. Contact the experienced Lancaster personal injury lawyers at Schiller & Hamilton to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

Emotional Distress After a Personal Injury

The trauma of an accident can endure long after you are out of danger. Even if your physical injuries have healed, your emotional state may not have. It is common for accident victims to experience some degree of emotional distress after they have been hurt, including flashbacks. These effects can last for weeks, or months, or may even be permanent.

Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) is the most common form of emotional distress that accident victims suffer. It may leave you unable to carry on with your life as you did before the accident. Emotional distress can be so severe that you are unable to work or enjoy the activities that you did. Even with medication and mental health treatment, emotional distress may never completely go away. For example, people who have been involved in car accidents may be terrified of driving in the future.

Suing for Emotional Distress in South Carolina

In South Carolina, there is only one way you can sue for emotional distress that was not accompanied by a physical injury. You can file a bystander claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress when the following is true:

  • A third party suffered death or serious injury
  • You were near the accident
  • The third-party was closely related to you (such as a child or spouse)
  • You saw or heard the accident
  • You have suffered physical symptoms as a result of the emotional distress

Outside of that, you need to have suffered some type of physical injury that required a doctor’s treatment to file a lawsuit for emotional distress. In most cases, emotional distress is one of the many non-economic damages that you can recover alongside your physical injury.

Your Prior Condition Before the Accident Does Not Matter

It does not matter whether you had prior mental health issues before your accident. Even if the accident aggravated a prior condition, you are still entitled to compensation for it. In a personal injury case, the rule of thumb is that you “take your victim as you find them.” If you were prone to emotional distress because you have dealt with depression, the responsible party must compensate you for how their actions have worsened your condition.

How Much Is My Emotional Distress Case Worth?

How much you may be able to receive in damages depends on how badly you are suffering.

Generally, personal injury damages should be tied to your unique condition, and you should not use any average figures or someone else’s compensation as a yardstick for your claim.

Your attorney will review your case and help determine how much compensation you should seek. If you have been severely affected by PTSD, your claim may be worth more. In the end, your emotional distress damages are what you can secure from the insurance company or jury.

Reject offers that do not fully compensate you for your suffering.

The Challenges of an Emotional Distress Case

When you are claiming emotional distress damages, you are asking the insurance company to take your word for the effects of the accident. In reality, insurance companies do not like to accept anything they do not see in front of them. You can expect your account of your experience to be challenged at every step of the way so that the insurance companies minimize—or avoid—what they have to pay out.

The insurance company may work to minimize the extent of your emotional distress and make you a paltry settlement offer, largely ignoring the emotional effects of the accident.

You are the one who has the burden of proof to demonstrate your damages and must have sufficient documentation showing the extent of your condition. Even though emotional distress is considered to be a subjective condition, it is one that you must still clearly demonstrate.

How To Document Your Emotional Distress Case

The best way to strengthen your claim for emotional distress is to have extensive documentation of what you have been dealing with since the accident. It is up to you to seek out treatment from a mental health provider and stick with it over time, as the insurance company will not look favorably on any emotional distress claim when you have not received help.

Much will depend on the diagnosis that your mental health provider gives you. They will write treatment notes that will become part of your claim, describing what you have reported and what the doctor has observed.

In addition, the medications that you have been prescribed can also be evidence of your emotional distress.

Contact a Lancaster Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you have been injured in an accident, it is essential to know how much your claim is worth, considering all of the ways that you have suffered. The attorneys at Schiller & Hamilton will review your case and tell you the potential value of a claim or lawsuit. You must take the first step, which is to reach out to one of our attorneys. Get in touch with us online, or call us today at 843-379-5006 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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