Can I Sue for Emotional Distress Caused by a Truck Accident?

Trying to put your life back together after a truck accident is challenging, especially if you are struggling to overcome both physical and emotional injuries. Traumatic events, like truck accidents, often have a serious impact on victim’s emotional well-being, often forcing them to cope with depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, what a lot of truck accident victims fail to realize is that emotional trauma is a legitimate and compensable damage. In addition to the physical injuries they sustained, the mental toll of a serious accident can have a significant impact on a victim’s overall quality of life. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, our Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys have been helping truck accident victims seek maximum compensation for both their bodily and emotional injuries since 1985. Call us today to schedule your free consultation. 

How Does Virginia Define Emotional Distress?

In order to be considered compensable, your emotional trauma must be the result of another person’s negligent or willful actions. Common symptoms include anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, nightmares, insomnia, fatigue, flashbacks, extreme fluctuations in weight, chronic headaches, and mood swings. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a good example of a form of emotional distress that is recoverable in a lawsuit.

If you intend to pursue damages for emotional trauma, you will have to prove that someone else is at fault. Grounds for emotional distress damages in Virginia are restricted to one of two scenarios. Firstly, these damages may be pursued if they are directly connected to your physical injuries. Bear in mind that without the element of physical harm, pursuing damages for emotional distress becomes much more difficult. 

This brings us to the second scenario in which Virginia allows individuals to seek damages for emotional trauma; if it was the direct result of someone’s reckless or deliberate conduct. In other words, if another party deliberately caused your emotional distress, you might have a valid claim.

How Can I Prove My Emotional Distress?

The emotional distress you experience in the wake of a serious truck accident can make it hard to move on with your life. While proving that your truck accident was the cause of your emotional trauma might feel like an uphill battle, there are steps you can take to make it easier on yourself, including:

  • Medical documentation: Talk to your mental health professional and ask them to make sure that the fact that your emotional trauma is directly linked to your truck accident is thoroughly documented in your patient record. You can also talk to your primary care physician about your mental anguish. Although they are probably not an expert in mental health, having your medical records indicate you are experiencing emotional distress will strengthen your claim.
  • Keep a journal: Keep a daily record of how you feel physically and emotionally. Be specific in your descriptions and be sure to include any instances where your mental health has impacted your daily life. 
  • Substantiation: Ask people who know you well or with whom you interact regularly to write statements about the changes they have noticed in your behavior and moods. Your therapist and doctor can provide statements as well. 
  • Track your medications: If your therapist or doctor prescribes you any medication for your emotional trauma, make sure you document this fact. It can act as proof that your condition has been recognized by a medical professional.   
  • Go to therapy: Getting therapy is good for both you and your lawsuit. Your therapist’s records about your condition and how it is affecting you could be another form of compelling evidence that supports your claim. 

Following these steps can help you build a solid case that proves your emotional distress is directly related to your truck accident.  

Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The experienced Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp know that truck accident victims often have to deal with more than just physical injuries and understand the considerable impact that proving emotional distress can have on obtaining full compensation. We can help you collect evidence that proves your emotional trauma is related to your accident, and build a strong case for compensation. In one recent case, we obtained a $3.5 million settlement for the wrongful death of a client who was killed when a careless truck driver slammed into the back of his vehicle. 

If you experienced mental anguish after a Virginia truck accident, you can schedule a free case review by calling us at (833) 997-1774 or by filling out our contact form. Our offices are in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Portsmouth, and Norfolk.