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Documenting Your Emotional Distress Following an Accident

In New York, personal injury claimants can seek compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish. Unfortunately, many accident victims have no idea how to prove their emotional distress. Even worse, they find that insurance adjusters are skeptical that the victim is really experiencing intense depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. They believe victims are exaggerating their distress, so they offer little compensation in return.

At Powers & Santola, LLP, we strive to empower our clients to get the maximum compensation possible. Below, we offer 5 tips for documenting your emotional distress so that you can strengthen your New York personal injury claim.

Keep a Journal

A journal is an effective way to document your emotional distress. Every day, you can write down how you are feeling and how your emotional state has interfered with your life. For example, you might be feeling so depressed that you can’t spend time with family at a holiday dinner. Or your anxiety could be so strong that you won’t get into a car after a car accident.

By keeping the journal every day, you provide a detailed account of how you are feeling. True, you can also testify about your emotional distress. But there’s nothing quite as powerful as a journal recording in real time your emotional state.

Emotional distress often:

  • Prevents people from spending time with family or friends
  • Causes people to withdraw socially and stop going out into public
  • Leads to weight loss and other physical manifestations
  • Disrupts sleep
  • Causes changes in personality
  • Ends romantic relationships

Keeping a journal requires bravery and honesty. Remember not to exaggerate or anything like that. The other side will find out if you are lying. Instead, be as honest as you can be.

Document Any Psychotherapy or Mental Health Counseling

Many accident victims need to work with a therapist to overcome or manage their emotional distress. You should write down the names of who you meet with along with the dates when you saw them. If necessary, we might ask your therapist to provide testimony about your emotional state. They can also connect any emotional problems to the pain or physical limitation you have experienced as a result of the accident.

We realize that this is private medical information, and many people are embarrassed to share sensitive details about their struggles. However, it might be necessary to convince an insurance adjuster or jury that you are in distress. If you are going to seek compensation for emotional distress, you need to be open to talking about your emotional state.

Preserve Prescription Drug Bottles

Your doctor might have prescribed medication for anxiety, depression, or another psychological condition. You should keep these prescription bottles. They are dramatic evidence of the severity of your mental health problems. We might put them all in a plastic bag and introduce them into evidence at trial.

Ask Friends or Family to Testify

The people who know you the best can provide critical testimony about how the accident has changed you. For example, you might be more irritable or possibly more aggressive following the accident. You might no longer enjoy talking on the telephone or going for walks.

Remember, insurance adjusters have no idea what you were like before the accident. Your friends and family can provide this window into your life.

What Not to Do

We strongly recommend against giving a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. They usually search for information to use to reduce the value of a claim, and they could subtly ask questions to get you to admit you are “okay” or in a better mental state than you really are.

You also shouldn’t self-diagnose any mental health condition. If you are feeling depressed or anxious—or if you relive the accident over and over—seek professional help. Not only will you improve the chances of recovery, but you will strengthen your injury claim.

Contact Our New York Personal Injury Lawyer for Help

We are pleased to share tips with our clients about how they can bolster a claim for compensation. Emotional distress damages could make up a large part of a settlement, especially if you suffered serious disfiguring injuries. Burns to the face and amputation often cause people to completely withdraw from public life, and this anguish deserves meaningful compensation. With the right evidence, we can push for the maximum settlement possible. Without the evidence, we are left with only your own testimony about how you are feeling.

To learn more, please contact Powers & Santola today to schedule a consultation.

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