Compensation for Emotional Distress

March 1, 2021

Compensation for Emotional Distress


Injury victims often sustain significant setbacks in their lives. Not only do victims have to deal with immense physical pain and suffering after an injury occurs, but they also have to deal with significant financial consequences in the form of medical bills and lost wages. However, many people neglect to consider the psychological and emotional distress that injury victims sustain in these situations.

It is important to point out that victims are typically able to recover compensation for emotional distress if their injury was caused by the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of another individual. Here, our local team of Phoenix personal injury lawyers want to talk about compensation for emotional distress, how this compensation is calculated, and whether or not a person should work with an attorney in these situations.

Defining Emotional Distress After an Injury

It will be hard-pressed to find an exact definition of “emotional distress,” particularly when it comes to personal injury cases. When we discuss emotional distress in terms of a personal injury claim, we are typically talking about the types of compensation a person can receive. Emotional distress is going to fall under “pain and suffering damages” that an injury victim experiences. This is going to be considered a “general” or “non-economic” damage. These types of damages are generally harder to calculate than other types of losses, such as medical bills and lost income. We will discuss calculating these damages in a moment.

There are many different types of damages that can fall under the umbrella of “pain and suffering” and “emotional distress.” This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Mental anguish
  • Psychological distress
  • Inconvenience
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

This is certainly not a complete list of all of the types of emotional distress that a person can experience after they sustain an injury. The reality is that there are various types of injuries that can significantly affect a person’s physical and mental well-being.

How is Emotional Distress Calculated?

Calculating emotional distress damages in personal injury cases can be complicated. When it comes to economic damages like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage, an injury victim and their attorney will need to gather receipts, bills, pay stubs, etc.

However, calculating emotional distress and other types of non-economic damages is more difficult. There are no bills or receipts that can be gathered and added up. In these cases, an attorney will typically use a “multiplier method” where are they add up the total of all economic damages and then multiply that total by a set number (usually 1.5 to 5) to calculate the non-economic damages.

For example, suppose a person sustains a spinal cord injury caused by the negligence of another driver. If their total economic damages add up to $500,000, an attorney may use a multiplier of “three” to reach a total of $1,500,000 for non-economic damages. In total, the attorney will seek $2,000,000 on behalf of their client.

More: How to Prove Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Case

Will You Need an Attorney?

Anytime a person is injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual, company, or entity, they should work with a skilled attorney who can bring the resources needed to conduct a complete investigation into the incident. An attorney can work with trusted medical and economic experts to properly calculate total damages, including emotional distress damages. Contact our team of lawyers at Torgenson Law today.