A North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Discusses Emotional Distress and Mental Trauma

People who suffer physical injuries in North Carolina have the legal right to seek compensation from the individuals or businesses that harmed them. Securing an insurance settlement or receiving a jury award requires showing that the defendant who is named as having causing the injury acted negligently or recklessly.

We discuss how injury victims and their personal injury lawyers prove negligence or recklessness in this article. The information is important to know because establishing fault is what makes it possible to demand that the responsible party pays for the economic and noneconomic damages the accident victim suffered.

Economic damages are exactly what they sound like. Medical bills, lost wages, reductions in lifetime earnings due to a disability, and costs for ongoing treatment and therapy fall into the category of economic damages.

Noneconomic damages cannot be easily calculated, but they are very real and very costly. Think of them as emotional injuries that accompany and result from physical injuries inflicted by a negligent or reckless party.

These are the “pain and suffering” people often talk about when discussing personal injury cases. In addition to physical pain and discomfort, noneconomic damages encompass short-term and long-lasting emotional distress, mental trauma and alterations in mood and behavior.

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No complete list of noneconomic damages from a personal injury exists, but examples include

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to deal with stressful situations
  • Behavioral changes (especially in children)
  • Excessive sensitivity to sounds
  • Flashbacks
  • Hypervigilance
  • Insomnia
  • Night terrors
  • Phobias
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

These emotional and mental challenges often occur in combination, making an accident victim’s return to their previous lifestyle and job difficult or impossible. In addition, the problems may develop days or months after a car crash, truck accident, medical error or slip and fall. And, sometimes worst of all in terms of seeking compensation via an insurance claim or civil lawsuit, the symptoms will not be readily visible to a casual observer or to someone who did not know the injured person before their accident.

Such realities complicate claims for noneconomic damages. Succeeding in securing compensation can require receiving a diagnosis from a psychiatrist or other qualified mental health care provider, presenting proof of participating in therapy sessions, and sharing testimony from family members, friends and coworkers. Partnering with a caring North Carolina personal injury attorney who has experience pressing claims for noneconomic damages will make it easier to gather, organize and deliver such evidence.

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When an individual is injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, they are entitled, under the law, to pursue damages for all the losses those injuries have caused. Medical expenses, loss of income, and even pain and suffering are all items that a victim can be compensated for.

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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