Mental Health and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Mental Health and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Personal injury lawsuits are not limited to physical injuries, your mental health matters.

When we think about personal injury lawsuits, we typically associate them with physical injuries sustained in an accident due to negligence. We think this way because physical symptoms are objectively present, and they’re generally easy to prove through x-rays or other tests. In reality, injuries to the body, mind, and emotions are what actually defines a personal injury. Psychological injuries get discussed less frequently when it comes to personal injury lawsuits because they aren’t tangible, observable, or easy to diagnose.

What is a psychological injury?

Psychological injuries can be referred to in a variety of terms when filing personal injury lawsuits. These terms include “emotional distress,” “pain and suffering,” “psychological suffering,” and “non-pecuniary damages.”

If you experience head trauma (i.e., a concussion) in a car accident, a psychological impairment could stem from this injury. You could also experience psychological distress due to a physical injury that altered or limited your ability to participate in day-to-day activities (i.e., sports, cycling, walking). However, psychological injuries do not have to be directly linked to or caused by a physical injury and can stand independently.

Psychological injuries cited in personal injury lawsuits include:

  • Fear, paranoia, anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares or insomnia
  • Driving avoidance (in car accident victims)
  • Grief
  • Shock
  • Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anger issues
  • And more

Proving emotional distress in personal injury lawsuits

As mentioned, psychological injuries and emotional distress can be more challenging to prove in personal injury lawsuits. Just as you would establish a physical injury, you must have a physician or mental health professional evaluate you to confirm a psychological injury.

In some cases, the plaintiff might need to prove that their psychological injuries are severe, prolonged, or permanent. The psychological injuries must be more severe than typical issues an average person might experience. For example, being ‘sad’ or ‘angry’ may not warrant compensation or legal implications in a personal injury lawsuit. If those emotions aren’t justifiably debilitating or otherwise more severe than they would be if you were to, say, stub your toe, it can difficult to claim damages.

However, determining the severity of psychological injuries in personal injury lawsuits varies on a case-by-case basis.

Compensation

Compensation for a psychological injury in a personal injury lawsuit can include the costs of medical expenses, lost wages or lost income, and other psychological treatments. You may also be compensated for pain and suffering damages that you have already experienced or may experience in the future. The maximum payout for pain and suffering damages in Canada is $370,000, but very rarely is the full amount ever awarded.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. The effects of psychological injuries can linger and impact your life long after physical injury symptoms are remedied. Just because mental health issues aren’t always tangible or easily identifiable does not mean they don’t exist or aren’t important. Mental health disorders and psychological injuries can be devastating if not treated. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a psychological injury, it is crucial to seek help immediately.