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Is Emotional Distress Part of Pain and Suffering in Phoenix, Arizona?

If you suffer emotional distress due to a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The condition falls under pain and suffering, which includes physical and emotional discomfort. Emotional distress varies from temporary to permanent and varies in severity.

What Is Emotional Distress?

The legal definition of emotional distress is suffering that results from negligent or intentional actions. If the distress is severe enough, the victim has grounds for an Arizona car insurance claim. Courts traditionally award compensation for emotional distress when there is a corresponding physical injury, though some judges have recently recognized emotional distress awards without a physical component.

Everyone experiences emotional distress differently, so no blanket definition of symptoms exists. Some of the most common forms include stress, anxiety, panic, and guilt. Other people may fall into a deep depression and have thoughts of suicide following their injury.

Causes of Emotional Distress

Emotional distress cases stem from a negligent or malicious act. Negligence means an individual did not exercise caution or care when they should have. For instance, a negligent driver may fail to yield at an intersection or leave their lights off when driving at night.

Malicious acts require intent. The culprit must deliberately try to injure another person, and in the process, cause emotional distress. For example, a driver may cut someone off in traffic to prevent them from passing or sideswipe another vehicle.

Car accidents aren’t the only cause of emotional distress. Someone may seek damages if they’re a bystander to a traumatic event, such as a loved one or animal’s death. Other causes include, but are not limited to sexual abuse, medical malpractice, and exposure to harmful materials.

Proving Emotional Distress in Arizona

If someone suffers a broken arm, a personal injury lawyer can show the swelling, bruising, and X-rays as proof of the injury. Emotional distress is not tangible, which makes proving it more difficult.  To avoid paying injured persons, Defendants regularly argue that a victim is pretending to suffer emotional distress or exacerbating their symptoms.  

People that endure emotional distress should first consider the intensity. One way to gauge distress is with a numerical scale from one to ten, with ten being the most intense. They should also consider the duration, how it relates to any bodily harm, and the affect the distress and suffering has on their life and their loved ones.  

If the emotional distress comes directly from a negligent or malicious act, a victim can recover damages for the distress by making an Arizona car insurance claim. Evidence can include personal journals that document their emotional and mental well-being. Anyone looking for the gold standard of proof should have a doctor confirm their psychological injury.

Determining Whether You Have a Valid Claim in Arizona

Emotional distress can uproot your life with nightmares, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts. If you suffer from demonstrable emotional distress, you have the right to pursue an Arizona personal injury claim.  A personal injury lawyer will help you review the evidence to prove your claim. They will work with you to best prepare your case to make a demand to the insurance company and present your case to a jury.  Contact your local personal injury lawyer today to learn more about emotional distress damages.


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  • 20+ Years of Legal Experience

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    The Folger Law Firm works closely with its clients, guiding them step-by-step through the entire claim process, reducing the stress on our clients and their families.


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