Case REview

Emotional Distress from a Car Crash

Tina was in good spirits driving from work and looking forward to getting home, only a short distance away. Traffic slowed, and she properly stopped. She could see an oncoming vehicle swaying and weaving, never thinking it would cross her path. But the vehicle kept coming. To remove herself from the oncoming driver’s path, Tina shifted to the far outer lane, next to the guardrail. What happened next was like something out of a movie, Tina said. BAM! The impact was severe. The airbags deployed, and smoke filled the car. Good Samaritans witnessed the collision and rushed to help. Speaking with paramedics, Tina believed she was okay to go home as it was only a few blocks away–although her car was totaled, and she did not know the date. The paramedics knew better and rushed her to the nearest hospital. 

As a result of the collision, Tina had a severe concussion and brain bleed. She sustained injuries to her neck and other parts of her body. Insomnia and flashbacks to the crash in bits and pieces at a time, coupled with the physical pains, caused her mental anguish and emotional distress.

Emotional distress is not a visible injury. It can reveal itself in many ways, including panic attacks, insomnia, nightmares, over or undereating, mood swings, crying, feelings of hopelessness, stomach pains, and more. In Florida, the responsibility lies with the injured person to prove emotional distress or mental anguish. Licensed mental health professionals can be a great resource. However, often the victim has: never seen a mental health practitioner, feels a sense of shame for receiving such medical help, or cannot afford treatment.  

In Tina’s case, we sought other means of evidence to prove emotional distress. We researched medical records and obtained statements from family, friends, co-workers, and supervisors regarding her emotions and state of mind. For Tina, enjoyment of life had changed. The evidence we obtained supported the emotional distress claim of the pre-injured versus post-injured Tina. 

As a personal injury attorney, I must take the time to care for and talk with clients to understand their issues beyond the visible. The effect of mental anguish or emotional distress can be profound, last a lifetime, and is often overlooked. But those unseen mental health conditions are considered compensable damages. The Law Office of Salesia Smith-Gordon team obtained the maximum limits from each available insurance policy to fully compensate Tina for the harm caused.  

Caring about the client’s overall health is one aspect of how my legal team works hard to help rebuild the lives of those seriously injured.