It may be difficult to sue someone for emotional distress in Florida. This is largely because emotional distress cannot be easily proven, unlike physical injury.
Yet psychological trauma caused by a car accident or other incident can greatly affect accident victims, their family members, or their loved ones.
Learn about emotional distress, if you can sue for emotional distress in the state of Florida, and how to file an emotional distress injury claim with the help of a Florida personal injury lawyer.
What Is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress, also called mental anguish, is the legal term for psychological injury a person experiences due to a traumatic incident, like a car crash. If a person experiences emotional trauma or mental anguish from an accident, they can file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.
To sue someone for emotional pain and suffering, you have to be able to show that they were negligent or reckless in some way and that their actions led to your emotional distress.
Florida law recognizes emotional distress when someone experiences mental suffering due to another party’s negligence. This means that witnesses to the event and loved ones of the person affected could also file a personal injury claim for emotional distress against the responsible party.
Mental distress affects each person differently, so proving your case may be difficult without the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Some examples of how emotional injuries can affect accident victims include:
- feeling ashamed or humiliated
- having sleep troubles (insomnia)
- suicidal thoughts
- experiencing stress and anxiety
These are just a few examples and are not the only way a person may be affected by severe emotional distress. Mental health can be greatly affected by major traumatic events, especially if the person is not treated.
Can I Sue Someone For Emotional Distress?
You are most likely to be able to sue for emotional damages (compensation) if you were physically hurt as well. Pain and suffering damages awarded for these claims are known as non-economic damages.
If you were in an accident and had a bodily injury, this could cause you emotional pain and suffering. Physical injuries that lead to emotional distress may be more likely to be viewed as worthy of damages by the Florida Supreme Court.
However, not everyone who is deeply affected by trauma will experience lasting physical harm. Sexual assault survivors and victims of slander or libel may also be able to file an emotional distress claim.
In these cases, expert witnesses such as psychotherapists may have to give testimony to prove that a person could be experiencing serious emotional injury from the event.
Proving Emotional Distress In A Personal Injury Lawsuit
Proving emotional distress can be difficult since others can’t see the injury. To prove mental anguish in your personal injury case, you’ll need to show documentation that shows how you have suffered.
If you struggled with depression after the incident, for example, you could show your medical records of a doctor’s diagnosis. Expert witnesses are often key parts in emotional distress cases. They can testify to how trauma may cause post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.
How To Show Negligence In An Emotional Distress Claim
In order to win a settlement for emotional distress, you may also need to show that there was negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED). This is also called the impact rule. Showing infliction simply means that physical contact was involved in the accident.
Similarly, a person may act with intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). This means they intended to cause harm instead of simply acting with negligence.
Even without a physical infliction, you may still be able to sue for psychological trauma in Florida if you were in the zone of danger.
The Zone Of Danger
The zone of danger refers to the area where a person is or could be in physical danger due to someone else’s negligence. This principle is the reason people who were not physically harmed in an accident can still sue for emotional damages.
For example, in a head-on collision that only harms the driver and front-seat passenger, family members or other members in the backseat could file an emotional distress claim.
How Long Do I Have To File An Emotional Distress Claim In Florida?
The state of Florida puts a limit on how long you have to file personal injury claims, including emotional distress cases. The limit is usually four years. However, some personal injury cases differ depending on the situation.
A medical malpractice claim that involves birth injury, for instance, has a statute of limitations of two years. To make sure you file your injury claim on time, it may help to speak with a Florida personal injury lawyer.
Types Of Emotional Distress Lawsuits
There are two main types of emotional distress lawsuits. Which type of emotional distress claim you will file depends on the details of the incident you experienced.
Florida courts will consider whether a person who suffered emotional distress was victim to negligent infliction or intentional infliction of emotional injury.
Negligence holds that each person has a duty to act with a reasonable amount of care towards others. This is viewed as a responsibility.
When courts determine negligence, they consider whether:
- a person had a duty to act a certain way to exercise care for others, such as driving within speed limits and
- obeying traffic laws while on the road
- if a person breached that duty
- if breaching duty of care led to injury
Some examples of emotional distress lawsuits that involve negligence may include:
- drunk driving wrongful death claims
- medical malpractice birth injury claims
- car accident personal injury claims
Lawsuits for intentional infliction of emotional distress are filed when a person suffers emotional trauma after someone acted intentionally or recklessly, causing the victim harm.
This could include:
How A Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
You may be wondering if you can file a lawsuit for emotional distress after suffering severe trauma in Florida. Consider working with the law offices of Florin|Roebig to learn whether your case qualifies and to understand your legal rights.
We help personal injury clients in areas throughout Florida, including Miami, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale. Don’t wait until your emotional distress causes severe mental health issues. Contact Florin|Roebig law firm today for a free consultation to discuss your case.