When someone is injured in an accident, the resulting physical injuries are often obvious and can be easily quantified in terms of medical expenses, lost wages, and other measurable damages. However, what about the emotional distress that can accompany such injuries? In South Carolina, it is possible to sue for emotional distress as part of a personal injury case, but there are certain conditions that must be met. In this blog post, we’ll explore the circumstances under which a plaintiff can sue for emotional distress in a South Carolina personal injury case.
What is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress, also known as mental anguish, refers to the psychological harm that can result from a traumatic event such as a car accident, slip and fall, or medical malpractice. It can manifest in a variety of ways, including anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Emotional distress can be just as debilitating as physical injuries, and it can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.
Types of Emotional Distress
There are two types of emotional distress: negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED).
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED)
Negligent infliction of emotional distress occurs when someone’s negligent behavior causes emotional harm to another person. In South Carolina, a plaintiff can recover damages for NIED if the following conditions are met:
- The defendant had a legal duty to act with reasonable care;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- The plaintiff suffered emotional distress as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty; and
- The emotional distress was serious and severe.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)
Intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when someone intentionally causes emotional harm to another person. In South Carolina, a plaintiff can recover damages for IIED if the following conditions are met:
- The defendant engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct;
- The conduct caused the plaintiff to suffer emotional distress; and
- The emotional distress was serious and severe.
How Emotional Distress is Proven
Proving emotional distress in a personal injury case can be challenging, as it is an invisible injury that cannot be seen or quantified in the same way as physical injuries. To prove emotional distress, a plaintiff must provide evidence of the following:
- The plaintiff suffered a traumatic event that caused the emotional distress;
- The emotional distress was a direct result of the traumatic event;
- The emotional distress is severe enough to cause significant disruption to the plaintiff’s life; and
- The emotional distress is not the result of a pre-existing condition or unrelated stressors.
Examples of Emotional Distress in Personal Injury Cases
Here are some examples of emotional distress that may be claimed in a personal injury case:
- PTSD resulting from a car accident;
- Anxiety and depression resulting from a slip and fall accident;
- Emotional trauma resulting from medical malpractice; and
- Fear and emotional distress resulting from a dog attack.
In each of these examples, the emotional distress is a direct result of the traumatic event and has a significant impact on the plaintiff’s life.
In South Carolina, it is possible to sue for emotional distress as part of a personal injury case. Whether you have suffered from negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected. If you believe that you have suffered emotional distress as a result of a personal injury, contact a South Carolina personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options. It is worth noting that the damages awarded for emotional distress may vary depending on the severity of the emotional harm suffered by the plaintiff. Damages for emotional distress can include compensation for medical expenses related to mental health treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
It is also important to keep in mind that emotional distress claims may be subject to certain limitations under South Carolina law. For instance, South Carolina has a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which means that a plaintiff must file their lawsuit within three years of the date of the injury or be barred from seeking compensation. Additionally, the state has a cap on damages for medical malpractice cases.
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury in South Carolina, Christian & Christian can help. Our law firm has over 60 years of combined experience representing clients in personal injury cases, including those involving emotional distress. Here are some ways that we can assist you with your personal injury case:
- Investigating the accident: Our team will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your accident to determine who was at fault and gather evidence to support your claim.
- Assessing damages: We will work with medical professionals to assess the extent of your injuries and calculate the damages you are entitled to, including compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
- Negotiating with insurance companies: We will negotiate with the insurance companies involved to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
- Preparing for trial: If necessary, our attorneys are prepared to take your case to trial to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
- Providing support and guidance: We understand that a personal injury can be a traumatic experience, and our team is here to provide support and guidance throughout the legal process.
At Christian & Christian, we believe in fighting for our clients’ rights and ensuring that they receive the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury in South Carolina, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We will listen to your story, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with the legal guidance and support you need to move forward with your case.