Being involved in an accident of any kind can be a very distressing time, both during the incident and afterward. The injuries you sustain, both physical and emotional, can leave a lasting impact that you may carry for an extended period of time. While filing a personal injury claim for physical damages due to an accident is relatively straightforward, suing for emotional trauma after sustaining an injury may not be as simple.
In the state of Pennsylvania, it used to be the case that anyone seeking compensation for emotional distress after an accident could only do so if it was accompanied by some form of physical injury. However, the impact rule, as it was referred to, was later adjusted to allow victims to sue for emotional trauma even if they were not physically harmed by an incident. If you were recently involved in a traumatic situation, and you are seeking compensation for the emotional damage you sustained from it, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Friedman Schuman to learn more about your next steps.
How do I sue for emotional trauma after an injury?
When it comes to lawsuits involving emotional trauma after an injury, Pennsylvania refers to these cases as negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) claims. If you suffered some type of emotional trauma like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or panic attacks due to the negligent actions of another party, you can sue for compensation. The qualification for these cases can vary depending on the circumstances of the situation. For example, the traditional impact rule used to be the standard for NIED claims which made it impossible to pursue a claim unless it was also accompanied by a physical injury due to the incident. Although, because of the expansion of the criteria when it comes to NIED claims, the impact rule is no longer the only means to sue for emotional trauma.
If you were in close enough proximity to the incident to feel as though you were in danger, that could be considered being within the zone of danger which can potentially make the negligent party liable for your emotional distress. Bystander liability could also be argued in court which would apply if you witnessed a family member being physically harmed, although this can be dependent on the severity of the situation. Another exception to the impact rule could also include special relationships that resulted in emotional damages. Professional relationships could fall under this category, such as the negligent behavior of a doctor that subsequently led to emotional trauma. Whatever the case may be, it is important to know that if you pursue an NIED claim, it is paramount that you have an experienced personal injury attorney to help guide you through the process.