Can You Sue for Emotional Distress in Texas?
David Muñoz | December 22, 2023 | Personal Injury
Accidents have many effects on their victims. These include physical injuries and financial losses, as well as emotional distress. In Texas, state law recognizes that harm inflicted on your emotional or mental well-being can be just as severe, if not more so, than physical injuries. This opens the door for victims who have suffered emotionally from the negligent or intentional acts of others to seek compensation.
If you have suffered emotional distress from an accident or injury, the journey to justice can seem long and windy. Understanding your rights is the first step in the process. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Texas can help you pursue all available damages in your case.
Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases
When pursuing your personal injury case, understanding the types of damages available for your injuries is crucial. “Damages” are the monetary compensation awarded to you for the harm you suffered from the wrongful actions of another. In Texas, damages in personal injury cases are generally categorized into two main types: compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages compensate you for the monetary losses you incurred. These are divided into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are awarded for quantifiable losses, like medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and property damage. On the other hand, non-economic damages compensate for non-financial losses, like pain and suffering or emotional distress.
What Are Emotional Distress Damages?
Emotional distress damages are intended to compensate you for the psychological impact of an injury or accident. This can include conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, loss of enjoyment of life, fear, humiliation, and other forms of mental anguish. The severity and impact of these conditions vary significantly from person to person. This makes assessing and quantifying these damages a complex task. Fortunately, an El Paso personal injury lawyer can help.
Proving emotional distress can be challenging. Unlike physical injuries, which are often visible and measurable, emotional distress is different because it is subjective. However, with the proper evidence and legal strategy, it is possible to prove emotional distress to a judge or jury.
Document the Emotional Distress
Be sure to document your emotional distress after an injury. Save any medical records from psychologists, psychiatrists, or therapists documenting your mental state. This includes your diagnoses, treatment plans, or notes about the impact of the distress on your daily life.
It can also be helpful to keep a detailed journal of your emotional state. This should record your feelings, symptoms, and other incidents that exacerbate your distress. It can help illustrate the extent and duration of your experience.
Expert Testimony Can Prove Emotional Distress
Your lawyer may rely on experts to prove your emotional distress. A lawyer may call on psychologists or psychiatrists who have treated you to provide testimony about your condition and the impact it has had on your life.
In some cases, your lawyer may even suggest independent evaluations. This would give an unbiased opinion on your emotional state from a mental health professional.
Linking Your Emotional Distress to the Injury
Evidence must establish a clear connection between your emotional distress and your injury from the defendant’s actions. This requires showing that your distress is not due to unrelated factors, like a history of ongoing mental health issues. You may need to testify about the duration and severity of your emotional distress. Long-term and severe distress is more likely to be awarded higher compensation.
Proving emotional distress requires a comprehensive approach. Lawyers work to combine your testimony with those of medical experts and other witnesses. Working closely with your El Paso personal injury lawyer is important to gather and present evidence effectively. A well-prepared case can make a significant difference in the compensation you receive.
The Legal Process and Timeline for Suing for Emotional Distress
Navigating the legal process for an emotional distress claim involves several steps. Each plays a vital role in the success of your case. Understanding this process and timeline is crucial if you are considering legal action. Here is a detailed look at the main steps and how to proceed with a lawsuit:
Step 1: Consult a Lawyer
The first step involves evaluating whether your emotional distress experienced is substantial enough to warrant legal action. This often requires consulting with a lawyer who can assess the strength of your case based on the evidence available and the severity of your distress.
Step 2: Gather Evidence
To support your claim, you must gather evidence, including medical records, psychological evaluations, personal journals, and witness testimonies.
Step 3: File Your Claim
The next step is filing your claim. In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years from the accident date. This legal deadline is strict, and failing to file within this period typically results in losing the right to sue.
Step 4: Conduct Discovery
Once the lawsuit is filed, the case enters the discovery phase. This is where both parties exchange information and gather further evidence. The discovery stage can be lengthy, depending on the case’s complexity. It can also be important in determining how much goes in your pocket.
Step 5: Negotiations and Mediation
Cases are often settled out of court. Negotiations or mediation between the parties can lead to a settlement agreement, which avoids the need for a trial.
Step 6: Go to Trial
If a settlement is not reached, the case will go to trial. Preparing for trial involves strategizing the presentation of the case, including lining up witnesses and finalizing arguments. During a trial, both sides present their evidence and arguments. The judge or jury then decides the validity of your claim and the amount of damages, if any.
Step 7: Appeals
Either party may appeal the court’s decision if they believe legal errors impacted the outcome. The appeals process can take months or years.
Remember that the legal process can be unpredictable and time-consuming. Cases involving emotional distress can be complex. The timeline from filing your case to receiving compensation, if any, can vary based on the specifics of each case. Working closely with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you achieve the best possible outcome.
An El Paso Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help With an Emotional Distress Claim
Emotional distress can significantly affect your quality of life. In Texas, courts may award emotional distress damages when injuries affect you psychologically or emotionally after an accident. However, navigating a claim alone requires a thorough understanding of your legal rights. If you or a loved one have been injured contact an El Paso injury lawyer to learn more about emotional distress claims.
Contact the El Paso Personal Injury Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information
Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108
We also serve the state of Texas. Contact our personal injury law office in El Paso for legal assistance today.