How Do Attorneys Prove Psychological Suffering?

by Staff | June 17th, 2024

Psychological trauma refers to the mental anguish that one party inflicts on another. There is usually no legal standing to file a lawsuit for causing exclusively psychological trauma, but it is often an important part of personal injury lawsuits. If you have suffered psychological trauma alongside injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, consider enlisting the services of lawyers to help you get compensation. 

WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL SUFFERING?

Injuries can subject a victim to two types of pain: emotional pain and physical pain. Therefore, in a personal injury lawsuit, the negligent party can be liable for both mental and physical injury. While physical injuries are typically easy to prove and quantify, mental suffering can be more difficult. 

If you intend to file a case for psychological suffering, your lawyer must prove that the level of trauma meets the legal threshold for mental anguish. You need to provide sufficient evidence to show that you suffered severe mental trauma with lasting detrimental effects. 

California recognizes instances of mental anguish caused by a negligent party. The court awards damages for non-economic damages caused by the defendant willingly, unwillingly, or through negligence. In this case, non-economic damages refer to non-monetary losses such as emotional distress, humiliation, loss of society and companionship, mental suffering, pain, suffering, injury to reputation, and loss of consortium due to an accident and physical injury.  

HOW WILL AN ATTORNEY PROVE PSYCHOLOGICAL SUFFERING?

If you are considering filing for psychological trauma in a personal injury lawsuit, here are a few ways that your attorney can help prove your claim.

THE INTENSITY OF YOUR MENTAL TRAUMA

Your lawyer will gather evidence to prove to the court that your condition is severe. The severity of mental suffering is evident if it manifests in conditions like PTSD, depression, or acute anxiety. A record showing any of these conditions can help strengthen your case.

EVIDENCE OF TREATMENT BY A PHYSICIAN

If you have sought treatment for your condition from a licensed physician, your attorney can provide this evidence in court. The evidence of treatment strengthens your claim, and you are more likely to receive compensation. Provide your lawyer with medical records that show doctor visits, prescriptions, and any other appropriate documents showing medical intervention. If possible, your physician can provide testimony during a hearing to further support your claim. 

DURATION OF THE SYMPTOMS

The longer you suffer from the symptoms of mental distress, the more likely the court will consider your condition to be severe. You must provide your lawyer with all records of doctor visits from the time your psychological suffering began to reflect the extent of your condition.

PHYSICAL Symptoms

Your lawyer will provide evidence showing the physical manifestation of your mental trauma. A physical injury is a more tangible measure of your suffering for the jury to assess.

The lawyer may gather information from friends, family, and colleagues to ascertain any changes in your personality. Physical manifestations of mental trauma include insomnia, body aches, extreme alertness, edginess, social isolation and withdrawal, loss of memory, and disorientation. 

EVIDENCE COLLECTION FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL SUFFERING

There are several types of evidence your lawyer can present that support your claim, including expert witnesses, documentation, and physical evidence.

EXPERT WITNESS TESTIMONY

Psychologists and psychiatrists can provide professional opinions on the extent and impact of the accident victim’s mental anguish. They can evaluate the victim’s mental state through clinical assessments and diagnostic tools, and their testimony can lend significant weight to the case. They can explain complex psychological conditions to the court, making it easier for judges and juries to understand the severity and legitimacy of the victim’s suffering.

DOCUMENTATION

Detailed documentation is essential in proving psychological suffering. Victims should keep thorough records of their experiences, symptoms, and treatments. This documentation can include:

  • Medical Records: Detailed records from mental health professionals—including diagnoses, treatment plans, therapy notes, and prescriptions—can show that the victim sought help and followed prescribed treatments. Medical exams can also highlight challenges the victim is facing, such as weight loss, insomnia, or other health issues.
  • Personal Journals: Victims can keep personal journals where they record their daily emotional and psychological experiences. These journals can provide a firsthand account of the accident victim’s suffering and its impact on their life.
  • Employer Statements: Statements from employers can back up claims of decreased work performance or inability to work due to psychological trauma. These statements can highlight changes in the victim’s behavior, work attendance, and overall job performance.
  • Testimonies from Friends and Family: Testimonies from those close to the victim can offer additional perspectives on the changes in the victim’s mental state and behavior since the accident. Friends and family members can provide valuable insights into how the trauma has affected the victim’s relationships, daily activities, and overall well-being.

DO YOU NEED A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER?

If you are considering filing a psychological trauma case, a personal injury lawyer can support you through the process. An attorney can help you put together the required proof and present it in court in an organized manner. Our team can talk to you about your rights and help you navigate the California legal system. If you are looking for a law firm to help you file a claim, contact Berg Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation regarding your case.

Originally published September 27th, 2021.