Individuals suffering mental anguish following a traumatic event can pursue claims for mental anguish. The courts recognize that not all injuries are outwardly visible and that many accident survivors suffer emotional distress that can negatively impact their lives and lifestyle. When an individual files a civil lawsuit in Illinois, plaintiffs have the right to pursue claims for mental anguish and recover compensation for their suffering.
Understanding Mental Anguish
As with physical pain, mental pain following a traumatic event can persist for weeks, months, and even years after the event. This can have a significantly negative impact on the individual’s quality of life, ability to work, and overall lifestyle. Those who suffer from emotional distress often exhibit considerable levels of anxiety, fear, and grief. These emotions are common when the individual has suffered a traumatic injury or witnessed the death of a friend or a loved one in a fatal accident. Depression is also a common form of mental anguish that accident survivors may experience. To prevail in court, the plaintiff needs to establish that it is reasonable to assume that the actions of the defendant would result in mental anguish. For instance, actions involving deliberate negligence, a traumatic death, or threats of physical violence.
Evidence of Emotional Anguish
Establishing the presence of emotional anguish requires thorough documentation. This can include notes and reports from psychiatrists or psychologists. It can also include statements from friends, family members, employer, or co-workers who can attest to changes in the individual’s personality and behavior. Other forms of evidence can include diary entries, social media posts, and other physical evidence that shows a clear change in behavior or outlook from before and after the accident.
Allowable Types of Damages
Unlike physical injuries, mental injuries are difficult to quantify. These types of injuries are considered non-economic damages which can be pursued at the same time the individual pursues claims for economic damages including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, etc. When determining the award for the plaintiff, the court will consider the overall impact of the mental anguish on the individual’s life. They will take into account any physical pain or suffering the injury caused, the loss of enjoyment of life, damage to personal/professional reputation, and whether the individual suffers from PTSD or other mental impairment. When considering awards, the court will determine how significantly these injuries impact the individual and award a sum commiserate to the individual’s level of suffering.