Mental anguish is an element of non-economic damage that may recover in a personal injury case. Mental anguish includes suffering such as depression, anxiety, grief, feelings of distress, hopelessness or fright, and the hurt that comes with losing someone or having your life changed. Mental anguish is distinguished from physical injuries and physical pain. Typically, mental anguish is lumped together with physical pain. However, it is its own animal.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice or a serious 18-wheeler accident and are experiencing mental anguish, please call today. We are here to discuss your personal injury claim. Contact us online or call today, 713-893-8808.
Non-economic damages cover a certain type of injuries that are not out-of-pocket losses, including pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, humiliation, mental anguish, loss of consortium (companionship) and emotional distress. Because these damages are often difficult to calculate and, jury awards for non-economic damages can exceed actual economic damages, how much you will receive for mental anguish is hard to estimate.
There is no standard formula to calculate non-economic damages; therefore, they are referred to as subjective damages because they differ according to a plaintiff's individual experience. You will want to be clear with the jury about how your life has been impacted by the accident. For example, highlight the activities that you miss because of the injuries and every day actions that you can no longer undertake.
The value of mental anguish is challenging to measure in dollars and cents. How can you place a price tag on the feeling of hopelessness that follows medical malpractice that forever changes your life? How can you measure the grief felt in losing the love of your life? This impossible task is often left to the jury.
When are mental anguish damages awarded if you were not hurt?
Texas allows recovery of mental anguish without physical injury ONLY in the following circumstances:
- bystander cases;
- intentional tort – child abduction;
- invasion of privacy;
- telegraph co. failing to deliver a death message promptly;
- conduct causing wrongful death; or
- negligently handling a corpse (cases against funeral homes and mortuaries).
These cases are rare. Mental anguish damages are most often seen in cases where the plaintiff or their loved one was physically injured. However, we may see more defamation cases as online platforms are used every day. And if the cemetery lost your loved one's body, the mental anguish damages may be immeasurable.
How do you prove mental anguish?
To recover mental anguish damages, you must provide evidence of the nature, severity, or duration of the plaintiff's anguish. This means your distress must disrupt the your daily routine and amount to a high degree of psychological pain that is more than anger, embarrassment, vexation, anxiety, or worry. This must be something more than merely "upsetting."
Many injured parties experience extreme mental anguish and cannot communicate their grief. Often allowing the injured to provide everyday examples of their anguish helps. For example, victims of medical malpractice walk into hospital relatively healthy, needing only routine medical care. After the neglect, they require multiple medications, see several doctors, require countless medical visits, and ongoing care. Explaining the shame they feel when their colostomy bag breaks in public or when their wife must bath them because they are now a quadriplegic helps others empathize and experience their mental anguish.
Evidence of mental anguish can include the following, but remember, each plaintiff is unique and may be impacted by mental anguish differently:
- ulcers or pain in the stomach that caused you to seek medical attention;
- treatment for anxiety or depression;
- treated anxiety attacks; and
- constantly being on edge and easily agitated.
It is difficult for others to understand your daily despair. Mental anguish is often a large part of a personal injury case and often part of the reason that the injured decide to move forward with litigation. When it is your time to express your grief, do so in an open, honest, and meaningful way. Offer the listener something more than "I was sad" or "I'm very hurt," take them through a moment of trauma that exemplifies your pain.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Anguish Claim
If you have or are experiencing emotional distress as a result of medical malpractice, or a serious car accident, Chelsie King Garza is here to listen and help. Contact us online or call 713-893-8808.