Recently, one of our young clients was involved in a serious rollover car accident. He was a front-seat passenger in his friend’s motor vehicle when it struck a median barrier near Mack Road in Sacramento. Our client was transported by ambulance to a local hospital where he underwent an extensive physical examination. Luckily, he was wearing his seatbelt, and he was diagnosed with only a sprained neck and shoulder.
The accident, however, was an emotionally traumatic event in our client’s young life. He now suffers from recurring nightmares and is chronically fatigued due to lack of sleep. He no longer enjoys riding in an automobile for fear of crashing. His parents have sought the help of a counselor to alleviate his mental suffering and wish to recover damages for their son’s emotional injuries.
California recognizes two general types of emotional distress damages. General emotional distress damages refer to the typical emotional distress that a person experiences from suffering physical pain associated with an accident or trauma. This form of emotional distress is considered an element of pain and suffering damages.
Severe emotional distress damages involve those emotional conditions that are specific to the injured person and are not necessarily associated with physical pain. These damages should be addressed separately from general emotional distress damages.
In this case, our client requires the services of a mental health counselor. He has emotional trauma that is not linked to his neck and shoulder pain. Therefore, a severe emotional distress claim can be made in these circumstances.
Severe emotional distress can sometimes be overlooked following an accident. It is important for attorneys to fully evaluate a client’s severe emotional distress injuries in order to recover all of the damages to which the client is entitled.