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Claiming Emotional Distress in a Florida Car Accident Case

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2018 | Personal Injury Law |


When you are hurt in a Florida car accident, you likely know that you may be entitled to recover compensation from the negligent driver. Your recovery amount is measured in terms of damages, a legal concept that refers to the economic and non-economic losses you experience. The first type of damages covers the costs you incur out-of-pocket, such as medical expenses and lost income. Non-economic damages are more subjective in nature, but you can recover amounts for your pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and emotional distress.

The classification of damages known as “emotional distress” is rather confusing to some, especially since personal injury laws require special types of proof if you want to include it in your claim. While you should always trust a skilled Florida car accident attorney with your case, some answers to the most common questions may help.

What are the grounds for claiming emotional distress?

If you sustained a certain level of mental anguish as a result of your auto collision, a theory of liability termed “negligent infliction of emotional distress” may allow you to recover non-economic damages. The idea behind this type of claim is that you suffered emotionally, in addition to your physical injuries, in the immediate aftermath of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. 

How do I prove negligent infliction of emotional distress?

In addition to the essential elements of a typical case based upon negligence, you must also establish two sets of facts to recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

  1. You were in the “zone of danger,” which means that you were in close proximity to the negligent activity.
  2. You suffered physical symptoms from the emotional distress, such that you suffer from some actual, diagnosable medical condition.

An example of this type of claim might be where a pedestrian walking in a designated crosswalk; a driver fails to yield, narrowly missing the victim. The person walking is so shocked and disturbed by the encounter that he or she suffers a heart attack. Even though there was no actual impact, the victim may still recover compensation for the heart attack under the theory of negligent infliction of emotional distress.

What types of evidence can I use to show physical symptoms?

Since one key to succeeding on this claim is being able to show some physical manifestation of emotional distress, concrete medical proof is critical. Solid evidence to support your case may include:

  • Medical records;
  • Diagnosis and procedure codes regarding treatment;
  • Physician’s notes;
  • Prescriptions you received to alleviate your condition;
  • Statements from medical experts qualified to testify under Florida’s Evidence Code; and,
  • Similar materials.

Schedule a Consultation with a Florida Car Accident Lawyer Today 

Negligent infliction of emotional distress is tricky to prove, so it is important to have the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, solid proof of your suffering, and a strong legal strategy. For more information on the types of damages that you may recover in a car accident case, please call 352-558-8480 to reach the Ocala, FL offices of Piccin & Glynn, Attorneys at Law. We can schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and explain the legal theories regarding your claim.