Can You Sue for Emotional Distress from a Car Accident in Oklahoma?

A car accident can have many negative consequences, including medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, loss of income, and physical injuries. Car crash victims also have to deal with mental anguish or emotional distress. In many cases, the emotional distress resulting from a car accident is permanent.

If someone else’s negligence caused a car accident that left you in emotional distress, the law might offer you recourse in the form of a car accident lawsuit. This guide looks at emotional distress and the possible avenues you have available for pursuing compensation. 

Economic and Non-Economic Damages 

Property damage, medical expenses, and loss of income are examples of economic damages. These damages are real and verifiable. A court will consider expert testimony, medical bills, and the potential future wages you lost to calculate these damages.

Non-economic damages are intangible, non-monetary, and subjective losses. Examples of non-economic damages include pain, suffering, and emotional distress. 

What Is Emotional Distress? 

People often use the terms “pain and suffering” and “emotional distress” interchangeably. However, these non-economic damages are not the same. Pain and suffering are physical discomforts. Emotional distress is mental distress or anguish and can include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic anxiety or depression
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Grief or loss of companionship
  • Shame or embarrassment
  • Sleep disorders 

Can You Sue for Emotional Distress? 

Emotional distress can be an element of injury or an independent claim in wrongful death or personal injury cases.

Usually, in the case of a car accident, the plaintiff needs to prove negligence to claim for emotional distress and other forms of injury. To prove negligence, you need to show that:

  1. The defendant owed a duty to protect you from injury.
  2. The defendant failed to perform or properly exercise the duty.
  3. A causal connection exists between your injury (emotional distress) and the defendant’s failure to exercise the duty of care.

In cases involving vehicular accidents, the law establishes the defendant’s duty of care. For example, the defendant had a legal duty to stop at a red light or adhere to the speed limit. 

You can also base your claim on the intentional infliction of emotional distress. In this case, you need to prove that the defendant acted recklessly or outrageously.

Under Oklahoma law, you only qualify to bring a claim of emotional distress if you are a direct victim of the accident. Someone who witnessed the accident cannot claim emotional distress unless they are a close relative of an injured victim.

A physical injury or tangible harm is another requirement for a claim. You cannot claim emotional distress in the case of a near miss. 

Hiring an Attorney 

Do you suffer from emotional distress after a car accident? You need the legal assistance of a reputable car accident attorney.

At Bryan Garrett PLLC, we can help you pursue a claim for emotional distress by gathering evidence, preparing a legal strategy, and negotiating compensation on your behalf.

To schedule an initial consultation with an experienced accident lawyer, give us a call at (405) 358-2342.

Bryan Garrett PLLC

Bryan Garrett has been dedicated to personal injury law for over 15 years in Oklahoma City. He has achieved excellent results for countless clients, whether through settlement or litigation.

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