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Auto Accident 2.13.2022

Can I Sue for Emotional Injury After a Car Accident? What You Need To Know

In Michigan, after a car accident, most people expect to sustain physical injuries such as: broken bones, soft tissue damage, cuts, bruises and lacerations, or more serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injuries, that can cause permanent damage and disability to the victim. However, many people fail to take into consideration, the possibility that a car accident will often cause enormous emotional distress as well.

You may have a lot of questions about your right to compensation following a car accident that caused significant emotional distress, including questions like, “Can I sue for emotional injuries after a car accident?” or, “Can I sue for post traumatic distress after a car accident?” Here's what you need to know.

If another driver’s negligent conduct on the road causes a car accident, and that accident resulted in serious emotional distress, you have the same right to seek compensation than you would if you sustained visible serious physical injuries. If you suffer physical and emotional traumatic injuries because of your car crash accident, you can seek financial compensation for both of those types of damages.
When can you sue for emotional injuries after a car accident?

In general, you may need to consider several factors when determining whether you have the right to sue for emotional distress injury after a car accident.

Did the other driver’s negligent behavior cause the accident?

Before you can claim financial compensation for emotional distress suffered during your car accident, you must first establish that the other driver’s negligent actions (error) or inactions (failure to act) led to your auto accident, your injuries, and the emotional distress, depression, or anxiety you face. If the other driver’s actions do not amount to negligence that caused your car accident, you may not have the right to claim compensation through a personal injury claim. Negligent actions or inactions may include everything from ignoring the rules of the road to texting and driving, driving while intoxicated, or failing to take evasive action.

Did you suffer substantial emotional impact from the accident?

Most people feel a little unsteady immediately after a car accident, especially one that results in serious injury. Even if you did not sustain a serious injury during the accident, you may feel emotional distress related to the accident crash dynamics. Many factors can cause your emotional distress and anxiety after an accident, such as fear that often rises during an accident itself to getting trapped in the mangled vehicle after the accident, which can trigger feelings of shock, claustrophobia, and worry.
Emotional difficulties related to the accident may include a variety of common medically identifiable conditions.


Many people involved in a sudden crash notice increased overall anxiety after a car accident. Anxiety includes persistent restlessness, worries, nervous, sweating, feeling weak, or insomnia, which is often about symptoms out of the individual’s immediate control. Anxiety can make it very difficult to, for example, go about normal activities of daily living, socialize with the people you normally would, or even be afraid getting in the car again after the accident. Many car accident victims may have trouble being in a car with someone else driving, taking control of a vehicle, or fearful of passing the accident scene in a vehicle, especially if the accident occurred suddenly and unexpectedly in a high-traffic area.

Anxiety from the car accident wreck can also start to infect other areas of the victim’s life. Some people notice an increase in anxiety over other circumstances such as lack of finances due to inability to work, in addition to circumstances involving vehicles and driving. They may start to dwell on worrisomely about things in other aspects of their lives, like marriage, raising kids, including things they cannot control like medical recovery or that have nothing to do with getting behind the wheel of a car again.


Changing outlook in life circumstances, especially those entirely outside the victim’s control, can stir up serious depression. Commonly, depression shows up after a car accident victims have sustained serious injuries, especially injuries that cause chronic pain or prevent them from engaging in many activities of daily living and sports, recreation, or hobbies they enjoyed before the accident. Accident victims who have not suffered a serious physical injury, but suffered immense emotional distress, may also have trouble with many of the activities they face after the accident, including financial loss or difficulty managing their schedule.

Depression may also appear as a loss of overall motivation or interest in the things that the patient once enjoyed doing. The patient may be tired, weak, sleep more often than usual or can’t generate enough energy to participate in activities of daily life, including many routine things that once filled up the patient’s day.


Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, often gets triggered as a result of shocking or very frightening events. Suddenly and unexpectedly getting in a car accident wreck, for example, could trigger an extreme emotional outburst of PTSD. People who witness car accidents may also suffer from that condition after the unsightly trauma.

Patients with PTSD may have severe sleeplessness, hopelessness, nightmares, immense anxiety, and trouble with flashbacks revisiting the crash that seem to take them back to the time of accident crash scene. Victims undergoing treatment may have a hard time dealing with the emotional issues in the aftermath of the accident, including trouble concentrating, irritability, or even going back to the accident site or frightened talking about it with anyone. PTSD can cause increased aggressive behavior, self-destructive behavior such as alcoholism, angry bursts, and interfere with the victim’s relationship with family, friends, and loved ones. PTSD may also make the patient feel detached, sometimes very difficult for the patient to get out of the house and do normal things, particularly since riding in a car can remind you of the event and trigger PTSD-related symptoms.

How can I claim emotional injury after a car accident?

The emotional distress injury related to your car accident wreck may cause deeply enormous changes in your life, whether you suffer from chronic depression and inability to take care of you own activities that you once enjoyed, or maybe you are struggling with PTSD symptoms and heightened anxiety. You have suffered enormous losses, and you may feel that you need considerable support and compensation for the losses you have faced.

Proving emotional distress after a car accident, however, is much more complicated than proving a physical injury that can been seen on objective testing such as Ct-Scan, X-rays, MRIs, or other diagnostic tests. To claim financial compensation for your emotional distress damages, you may need to work closely with an experienced car accident attorney who can go over the emotional conditions that resulted from your accident, prove the party liable for the accident and your injuries, and the financial compensation you may expect to receive. Further, an attorney can put together the vital evidence you need to establish your rights to financial compensation for your emotional distress injury.

1. Outline of the compensation you deserve for emotional distress injury by working closely with an experienced car accident lawyer.

Compensation for a car accident usually analyzed into two key categories: special damages, also known damages that you can assign a specific financial amount such as medical bills, and general damages, which do not have an immediate price value assigned to them such as pain and suffering, but for which the law says you still deserve monetary compensation. General damages usually include things like agony, distress, misery, or pain and suffering.

You may find that your damages or losses due to the emotional and mental anguish are associated with a car accident go into both of these compensation for damages categories.


Special damages include the elements of your claim that you can base on financial figure in dollar terms: the direct financial impact you have been confronted with because of your accident, and the financial repayment you deserve as a result. Generally, in a car accident claim, special damages include things like wages based on earrings missed from work and medical bills based cost of care or treatment.

Emotional distress following a car accident can cause both special damages and noneconomic damage (pain and suffering).

Medical Costs

In the immediate aftermath of your car accident, you may have had physical medical bills, including an emergency room visit or even long-term medical care as you worked to recover from your injuries. Like your body, your mind and emotions may require assistance and support from a medical professional as you work to heal. For example, you may have multiple appointment visits to a medical professional, either a specialist in psychology or psychiatry. In addition, for many types of mental conditions and difficulties you face, you may receive prescribed or over the counter medication to help treat or control the symptoms while you pursue rehabilitation and pain management option to manage your illness. While those medications may help relieve some of the symptoms, they often carry a heavy financial burden because it can be expensive to pay out of pocket. You can include the cost of these medications as part of your car accident claim.

Lost Wages

Some types of emotional difficulties you face can make it very hard for you to go back to work. If you suffer from PTSD, you may find it difficult to be around other people or to work in a public places, especially if you suffer from flashback anxiety. Increased anxiety or depression can make it very difficult to get out of bed and take care of your normal tasks each day. The longer those symptoms go on, the longer you may need to remain out of work. Your employer may even insist that you stay out of work until you deal more effectively with those conditions, especially if you have had flashbacks or performance issues as you tried to return to work after the accident.


General damages associated with a car accident claim include the non-financial losses you faced due to the accident and your injuries. If you are claiming emotional distress after a car accident, your lawyer will work with you to prove the kind of distress you are living with and the financial recompense you deserve as a result. For example, you might claim financial payment for the anxiety and depression you grapple with after the accident, or for the long-term impact of PTSD in your lifestyle.

2. Establishing evidence of your emotional distress and the losses you confronted due to that distress.

Your attorney will help you calculate the compensation that you deserve for emotional distress and outline the evidence you will need to collect to establish the right amount of compensation you deserve. However, before you are able can get financial compensation from the at fault driver, you must prove the other driver was at fault and the difficulties face due to your injuries.

As the injured party and the one claiming that you experience some difficulty, you can of course give detailed testimony describing the emotional distress and how you distress affects you after your accident. However, your attorney may recommend a strategy for documenting and collecting additional evidence to establish the losses you have endured due to your car accident related injuries.


After your car accident, you may work with a psychology or psychiatry expert to pursue a treatment cure for your emotional distress and other medical conditions.  By going through the recommended treatment process, hopefully you can gradually recover and start to live some sense of a normal life. Your medical care provider(s) can provide vital evidence of the steps you have taken to improve and the residual limitations you face because of the emotional distress you have after the car accident. Your medical care providers are considered experts in the legal community by reason of the education and experience, so you can also provide evidence of specific medically identifiable diagnosis that will establish what injuries developed after your accident.


You may need eye-witness testimony from family, friends, and others to help establish some of the other ways your emotional distress has affected you after the car accident. For example, your co-workers or manager, may be able to tell us how much time you lost from work or the difficulties you experienced in returning to work and how your injury impacted your performance in your career job.

Your friends might talk about how your personality has changed, including your ability to socialize or enjoy activities of daily living that you normally would have done with them, but for your injuries. Your family member might describe what they observed on a daily basis about your behavior. An attorney can advise you how the best approach is to establish the witness testimony you may need to help demonstrate all of the difficulties or setbacks you have faced due to your car accident injuries and the emotional distress.

Do I get an auto accident attorney to sue for emotional distress after a car accident?

In Michigan, any time you have the right to seek substantial compensation for car accident injuries, including the emotional distress, anxiety, and PTSD that may follow after being injured in a serious accident, having the right personal injury auto accident lawyer on your side can provide a key advantage. When it comes to filing a claim for emotional distress, however, that attorney can become even more critical because the emotional injury cannot be seen like a broken bone for example.


A car accident lawyer can help you decide what your injury case is worth, properly calculate the compensation you deserve, and collect the evidence you need to demonstrate you really have emotional distress after your car accident. Many car accident victims find that working with an experienced trial attorney can help increase the financial payment they can recover. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about the compensation you can expect for emotional distress after a car accident.

Contact Joseph Dedvukaj at 1-866-447-3563 (1-866-HIRE-JOE) for a free consultation with a Michigan car accident attorney.

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The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, P.C represents Michigan clients in a full range of personal injury matters. If you have been injured, contact us for a free consultation.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute a client relationship.
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