If you’ve been injured because someone else was negligent – in a traffic accident or in any other accident scenario – you are entitled by Florida law to compensation for your physical injuries.
But, can you be compensated for the anxiety, stress, and psychological toll that an injury takes on you?
Any illness or injury will probably be at least somewhat stressful, but whether or not you can be compensated for stress and anxiety will depend on the specific nature and extent of your injury and on the way that your injury happened.
WHAT ARE ECONOMIC AND “NON-ECONOMIC” INJURY DAMAGES?
In a personal injury case, where the victim seeks compensation from the negligent party responsible for the victim’s injury, stress may be counted as “non-economic damage” (in the “pain and suffering” category) or as medically-documented “economic” damage.
The non-economic damages in a personal injury case are considered “pain and suffering” damages. Economic damages – like medical bills and lost wages – can simply be added up, but it’s tougher to put a precise dollar figure on the cost of someone’s pain and suffering.
Almost every injury claim includes a non-economic claim for pain and suffering which also covers conditions such as stress and anxiety.
So to answer the original question we started with, the answer is yes. Stress and anxiety can be considered damages in an injury claim.
IS THERE A “CAP” OR LIMIT ON WHAT AN INJURY VICTIM CAN RECEIVE?
In the state of Florida, injury victims received some good news last year. The monetary amount that an injury victim can receive is no longer “capped” or limited by Florida law.
In 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the state’s maximum limits on non-economic damages in personal injury cases was a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.
In some cases, damages for stress and anxiety after an accident may not fall into the “non-economic” category.
For example, if you are treated by a healthcare professional for stress or anxiety, or if you receive counseling or prescription medications for a psychological injury, a successful injury claim will reimburse you for those costs as economic damages.
WHAT IS PTSD?
One frequently-diagnosed form of stress is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is not uncommon among the victims of severe and catastrophic physical injuries.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs defines PTSD as “a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.”
A victim who suffers from PTSD is so overwhelmed by depression that he or she can no longer enjoy any aspect of living. Most people can “push” themselves through a mild depression, but PTSD sufferers require professional medical help.
In the Tampa Bay area or anywhere in this state, if you are diagnosed with PTSD after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, arrange at once to discuss your rights with a personal injury attorney.
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF NEGLIGENCE, WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?
PTSD is a serious mental disorder, but you’ll need a lawyer’s help to prove that your PTSD is genuine and the result of a specific accident.
If you are injured by another person’s negligence, the law in Florida entitles you to compensation for psychological injuries as well as physical injuries.
PTSD victims may also receive compensation for lost wages when their injuries have prevented them from working.
However, in central Florida, receiving that compensation will require the help of an experienced accident attorney.
Stress, anxiety, and depression aren’t visible, so it can be tough to prove that you’ve suffered psychological damage.
You may need testimony or a statement from an expert on psychological injuries – a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist, for example.
WHAT ABOUT PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITIONS OTHER THAN PTSD?
PTSD is a severe condition, but non-PTSD-related stress and anxiety may also be compensated after an accident.
Injury-related stress and anxiety can cause migraines, skin rashes, acid reflux disease, and a number of other physical conditions.
The psychological difficulties triggered by a serious accident, whether or not those difficulties include PTSD, may persist after a victim recuperates from his or her physical injuries.
When an injury victim is medically diagnosed with stress or anxiety, the law in Florida treats that injury like a physical injury, and when negligence is the cause of an injury, the victim has the right to compensation.
HOW SHOULD YOU DEAL WITH STRESS, ANXIETY, OR PTSD?
If you’re dealing with stress, anxiety, or PTSD after an accident caused by another person’s negligence in Florida:
1. Talk with a counselor. Talking always helps, and counselors can offer valuable insights and guidance.
2. Do not miss scheduled medical visits. Follow the doctor’s orders.
3. Stay physically active to the extent that you’re able. Exercise if you can. If you’ve been seriously injured, talk with your healthcare provider about physical therapy.
4. Don’t forget to take your medications as directed.
5. As soon as possible after you’ve been injured, discuss your case with a qualified personal injury lawyer.
We all experience stress, but for many people, after a serious accident, the stress and anxiety are mentally and physically devastating.
If someone else was responsible for any physical or psychological injury that you have suffered – in a traffic accident or in any other type of accident – you have the right to seek compensation, and holding the negligent party accountable is the right thing to do.
HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP?
An experienced personal injury attorney can help. You may not realize it, but it doesn’t cost anything to meet with an injury attorney.
The first consultation is free, and if you proceed with a personal injury claim, you pay no attorney’s fee until a settlement or verdict is recovered on your behalf.
If it remains untreated, a psychological injury can impair the victim’s ability to enjoy life – sometimes for years. If you are involved in an accident that causes you to suffer stress, anxiety, depression, or PTSD, get the medical attention and help you need – immediately.
Then, talk to an attorney with substantial personal injury experience. You have the right to an attorney’s help, and if you’ve been injured by negligence, you have the right to compensation.
If your health and future are at stake, do not wait to exercise those rights. Promptly get the medical and legal help you need.