It’s an unfortunate reality that Colorado residents are no strangers to devastating car accidents. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 2022 broke a 41-year record for the most traffic fatalities – 754. The state experiences over 100,000 minor and major accidents on average annually.
While most crashes don’t cause serious injuries, those that do often result in weeks or months of painful recovery, hectic medical bills, and other economic damages. Many accident victims also suffer from emotional distress that negatively affects their behavior and lifestyle.
If you’ve been a car accident victim in Colorado, you should seek maximum compensation for your injuries and trauma by suing for non-economic damages as well when filing a claim. However, you’ll need a highly skilled and experienced Colorado car accident lawyer who knows how to quantify emotional distress, which can be tricky, considering its intangible and subjective nature.
In this post, we’ll share the key factors you must consider when suing for emotional distress and the evidence you’ll need to support your claim.
Post-Car Accident Emotional Distress Explained
Emotional distress or suffering is an emotional response to the trauma of a car accident and its various consequences, including (but not limited to):
- Vehicular damage
- Minor injuries (scratches, bruises, etc.)
- Catastrophic injuries (spinal fractures, burn injury, amputation, etc.)
- Death of a passenger, etc.
Emotional distress can manifest in different ways, resulting in mental anguish that can result in behavioral and lifestyle changes. For instance, a victim can develop a fear of driving or have flashbacks of the incident that can lead to anxiety, insomnia, depression, and PTSD.
Key Factors in Proving Emotional Distress – Insights from Experienced Colorado
As mentioned earlier, proving emotional distress isn’t easy. Therefore, you should hire a capable Colorado car accident attorney for legal representation. They’ll assess the following key factors (and possibly more) to build a strong case:
First and foremost, your lawyer will find the link between the events of your accident and the injuries leading to emotional distress. They must prove that your mental anguish resulted from the crash or collision and is not a pre-existing condition.
2. Medical Records and Healthcare Professional’s Testimony
Your medical records will be the most important evidence supporting your Colorado car accident claim. These records, along with doctors’ and mental health counselors’ testimonies, can prove the nature and extent of the psychological effects of the accident on your mind. Moreover, they can predict the possible impact of these effects on your overall well-being and lifestyle.
3. Emotional Distress Duration
Some victims don’t experience any psychological issues after accidents, especially if they leave them injury-free. Others experience depression, anxiety, and other issues for a while but get better over time as they recover from injuries.
However, some victims develop mental health issues that can last a lifetime. Therefore, one of the most important factors that can make or break your case is the duration and persistence of emotional distress.
Evidence to Support Emotional Distress Claims After a Colorado Car Accident
Along with medical records and expert testimonies, here are a few other types of evidence that can help your case and recover maximum compensation for emotional distress:
1. Personal Testimony
As a victim, you have the legal right to present a personal testimony in court and discuss the aftermath of your car accident in Colorado. You can share your recovery experience and any emotional issues, including flashbacks, fear, anxiety, work struggles, etc.
2. Witness Statements
You can use statements from eyewitnesses from your accident and peers (friends or family) who have observed post-accident behavioral changes. These witnesses can provide their perspectives on the extent of your emotional distress.
3. Photos and Footage
Photos and videos of the crash and vehicles can be strong evidence to show the accident’s severity and quantify your potential for developing mental health issues during or after recovery.
4. Police Report
One of the first things an experienced car accident attorney will do is get a copy of the official police report of the incident and accident scene. This information can help them illustrate in court the traumatic nature of the crash and the possible emotional impact on the victim.
5. Prescription Record
Many drugs doctors prescribe for post-accident injury recovery, including painkillers and antibiotics, may cause side effects that can lead to emotional distress. Similarly, victims who see mental health counselors often take special medication to cope with anxiety and depression.
In either case, if the defendant was responsible for the crash and injuries, your lawyer can use your prescription records as evidence of new health issues.
How to Calculate Emotional Distress in Colorado Accident Claims
Even if you can prove emotional distress, how do you calculate or quantify it to demand fair compensation? Fortunately, experienced car accident attorneys in Colorado have a few tricks up their sleeves to help with non-economic damage calculation, including (but not limited to):
1. The Multiplier Method
Many lawyers multiply the compensation victims receive for economic damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and loss of income. Most apply a multiplier between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity and duration of the emotional distress.
For instance, a victim unable to return to work due to a permanent disability, such as losing their ability to walk, could experience lifelong depression. In this case, the lawyer could demand five times more money than it would take to cover all economic damages.
2. Settlement Negotiations
In many cases, the defendant’s and plaintiff’s lawyers engage in settlement talks to negotiate a fair amount based on the evidence provided. The amount could be calculated using the non-economic damage caps in Colorado, which cannot exceed $1.28 million.
Hence, depending on the case, the settlement amount would be higher than the cost of economic damage compensation but less than the cap.
3. The Per Diem Method
Some lawyers quantify emotional distress based on lost wages, therapy costs, unemployment, etc. This method is called “per diem” and assigns a daily monetary value to the victim’s mental anguish. In other words, the defendant must pay a certain amount every day for a pre-specified number of days, weeks, or months until the victim recovers from their issues.
Contact a Colorado Car Accident Lawyer Right Away!
Proving emotional distress in a Colorado car accident claim requires a strategic mix of expertise, experience, and resources. At the Bourassa Law Group, we have all three. Our Colorado car accident lawyers know how to calculate emotional distress and can build a solid case to hold the defendant responsible for your mental anguish and suffering.
We’ll gather all the necessary evidence to connect your accident and injuries with depression, anxiety, or other post-accident issues. So, get in touch now for a free consultation at 800-870-8910. We’ll discuss your case and get started ASAP!
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