Can I Recover Damages for the Emotional Trauma Caused by a Car Accident?

Most car accident victims in Maryland know that they may be eligible for compensation for their losses. Still, many only think about recovering their financial expenses related to property damage and medical bills. Nevertheless, car accidents don’t only cause physical losses.  Many victims suffer emotional trauma which negatively impact their quality of life. It is, therefore, possible to recover damages for the emotional pain caused by a car accident.

However, emotional trauma, like pain and suffering, falls into the category of non-economic damages. It can’t easily be quantified and attaching a dollar value to it can be difficult. This means claims for emotional trauma can be complicated. There are no x-rays or blood tests which can be used to diagnose you. However, if you were truly affected by the accident, you deserve to get compensation. If you hire an experienced Maryland auto accident lawyer, they will help you to recover damages for all your losses.

How Car Crashes Lead to Emotional Trauma

Vehicular accidents can be disturbing even when no one is seriously hurt. However, crashes which result in serious injuries are especially likely to lead to stress, depression, anxiety and other emotional issues. To recover damages in Maryland, your mental suffering must be linked to a physical injury. Every car accident victim’s situation will be different. However, you may be able to get compensation if:

  • You developed a condition which can be medically diagnosed
  • Your doctor recorded your psychological symptoms
  • You received treatment from a recognized health care provider
  • You were prescribed medication to relieve your symptoms

As with all other claims for damages, you need to prove that you suffered the losses you claim. Your medical records will be of great importance. Information about your physical injuries can give some indication as to the level of emotional distress you suffered. If you only received a few minor scratches, you may not be able to claim damages for emotional distress. However, if you lost a limb or suffered permanent disfigurement or disability, you’ll have a stronger case. If you suffered a catastrophic injury, your records may show:

  • The intensity of your distress
  • How ongoing pain harms your emotional well-being
  • How your emotional distress leads of physical symptoms

Maryland car accident attorneys often rely on medical experts to provide their opinions on these factors. If a doctor can make a connection between your physical injuries and your emotional trauma, you can make a case for compensation. However, there’s something you need to be aware of. Regardless of how much distress you suffered, there will be a cap on the damages you can recover. It won’t matter how well you prove your case or how many doctor testify on your behalf.

Maryland’s Cap on Non-Economic Damages

In 2019, the cap for non-economic damages in personal injury cases is $860,000. The law allows for an annual increase of around $15,000 per year to account for inflation.  This ceiling covers all intangible losses including pain and suffering and emotional distress. If you suffered severe psychological problems following the accident, you may not receive full compensation. The cap doesn’t apply to economic damages including medical bills, property damage, lost wages and lost earning capacity. It’s important that you document all your financial losses carefully so you can recover as much as possible.

Contributory Negligence

Another legal concept that is not affected by emotional distress is Maryland’s rule on contributory negligence. Under this law, you cannot recover any amount of compensation if your own actions were a contributing factor in causing your own injuries. For example:

  • Motor Vehicle Collisions:Your conduct could be in the spotlight – and can prevent you from being eligible for compensation – if you were careless while behind the wheel. Speeding, distracted driving, violations of traffic laws, and other actions could prevent you from recovering any monetary damages.

If you have questions about any of the above or want to find out more about how the law would apply to the facts of your case, call us now to speak with our knowledgeable Maryland auto accident law firm.

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