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Recovering compensation for emotional distress

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Car Accidents |

Can you be compensated for the emotional distress you suffered as a result of your injury? In some cases, the answer is yes, but the subject is quite complex.

Economic and noneconomic damages

The goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to compensate the injured person for everything they have lost as a result of their injury. Lawyers refer to these losses as “damages,” and break them down in to the categories of economic and noneconomic damages.

Your economic damages include tangible losses such as your medical expenses related to your injury and the wages you lost because you were unable to return to work. To fully recover everything you have lost and will lose because of your injury, you should be compensated not only for the economic damages you have already suffered, but also those you will face in the future. If your injuries will require years of treatment even after your lawsuit is over, you should be compensated for those treatment costs.

However, the effects of your injury can touch almost every aspect of your life, not just your career and your medical bills. Your injury may have left  you disfigured, disabled, in pain, unable to hold your grandchildren and so on. To be fully compensated for everything you lost, you should also be compensated for these intangible losses. These are known as noneconomic damages.

Emotional distress

Illinois law specifically lists certain types of noneconomic damages including pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability and loss of consortium, but the list is not exclusive. Courts have found other types of noneconomic damages to be compensable in some cases. In some cases, these have included damages for emotional distress.

Emotional distress refers to mental pain and suffering, and court precedents have established that these are distinct from physical pain and suffering damages.

Oftentimes, people who are facing physical pain and suffering over a long period of time also experience worsened mental health. They may have anxiety, depression and more conditions that are directly caused by, or exacerbated by their physical pain, and these mental conditions have a real effect on their lives. Emotional distress damages are meant to represent these losses, to ensure that the injured are fully compensated.