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Does Pain and Suffering Include Emotional Distress?

The term “pain and suffering” is commonly associated with car accidents and personal injury cases. It can refer to the physical pain one suffers from an accident and the negative effects of that injury. There is also a mental aspect to pain and suffering because an accident often negatively impacts a person’s emotional state. Pain and suffering may include fear, anxiety, depression, and emotional distress.

The physical pain from an injury is to be expected, but emotional distress and other negative mental states are quite common as well. Emotional distress can happen immediately or surface over time, and it is an important aspect in any personal injury case. Although it may be difficult to calculate emotional distress damages because the severity is not often concrete, a qualified car accident lawyer can help litigate a case.

What Constitutes Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress includes a wide range of negative emotions because every accident is different. Emotional distress can include anxiety, torment, insomnia, depression, and mental anguish.

Legally, there are many factors that must be considered to determine emotional distress in a personal injury claim, including:


An important aspect is proving the injured party’s symptoms and how the symptoms are affecting them. With physical injuries, they range in severity. Mental conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can range from moderate to severe.

Suffering from mental anguish would be harder to prove in a minor accident with no injuries. The severity of emotional distress could impact the injured party’s work as well as their quality of life. For instance, someone who enjoys the outdoors or exercise may not be able to do those activities anymore because of an injured knee, which can have a negative impact on the victim’s life.


It should be noted that the severity of one’s symptoms could also encompass the length of time one endures those symptoms. Shock and anxiety may not be as severe as when the accident had first occurred. It is the long-term effects that would be deemed as emotional distress.

Doctors’ Notes

An important part of any emotional distress case is a diagnosis from a medical professional or doctor. Their notes would be extremely important in proving emotional distress, as well as the necessary treatment or rehabilitation needed to treat the mental incapacity.

How is Compensation Calculated?

Ultimately, state laws vary in terms of pain and suffering, and calculating the amount owed to an injured plaintiff may fall to a jury. A jury would factor in the amount of medical costs and lost wages one had suffered because of an injury, and factor in pain and suffering as well.

Since emotional distress is not a monetary value, the jury may also look at other factors, such as the plaintiff’s believability, if the plaintiff shared any fault, whether they are exaggerating, and their credibility. Additionally, a lawyer can help a victim receive the maximum amount of compensation available.

Atlantic City Car Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Protect Clients Suffering from Emotional Distress After Car Accidents

If you have a mental injury that was caused by a negligent driver, contact one of our Atlantic City car accident lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm today. Our skilled and experienced lawyers get compensation for car accident victims. Call us at 609-926-3300 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Atlantic City, Linwood, Galloway Township, Cape May, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, Ocean City, and Woodbury.