If you or a loved one are injured in an accident caused by the reckless or negligent actions of another driver, there are several types of compensation available for any injuries or other losses. In Georgia, you will often see that the accident victim was awarded emotional distress damages because of their injuries. In Burrow & Associates’ latest blog, we take a closer look at emotional distress compensation.
What is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is the severe stress or anxiety a person suffers as a response to a traumatic experience. Under Georgia law, it usually falls under the category of pain and suffering. Emotional distress can be caused by the negligent or intentional actions of another person. Negligent infliction of emotional distress is when one person causes another to experience severe emotional distress due to their negligent actions. Some examples of negligence in a car accident would be texting while driving, driving while drunk, or speeding. Intentional infliction of emotional distress is when a person’s extreme or outrageous behavior causes distress in another person. For example, let’s say a person lies to someone else, saying their family member has been killed in a car accident. This behavior, the horrific lie about the family member, would be intentional and reckless conduct. It is important to note, that not all extreme or outrageous behavior rises to the level of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Emotional Distress Compensation in Georgia: The Impact Rule
Georgia is one of the few states in the US that does not allow someone to seek emotional distress compensation if they did not also suffer a physical injury. This is called the Impact Rule. Under Georgia law, a plaintiff cannot recover damages for emotional distress unless:
- The plaintiff sustained a physical impact in the incident,
- The physical impact caused physical injury to the plaintiff, AND
- The physical injury also caused the plaintiff to suffer mental or emotional distress.
When does the Impact Rule apply? Typically, this rule comes up in situations where a person is trying to recover emotional distress compensation after seeing a family member or loved one severely injured or killed in an accident. A parent watched their child die in a vehicle collision. A spouse sees their husband or wife suffer a catastrophic injury in an accident. While Georgia courts will acknowledge that a person has suffered because of their loss, the court will not allow for emotional distress compensation unless that person was also physically injured in that same incident. The Impact Rule can seem illogical; it can leave people who witnessed a horrific situation without a means of recovering compensation.
Emotional Distress Compensation in Georgia: Available Compensation
If a person is eligible to recover for emotional distress in Georgia (they suffered both a physical injury and emotional distress), there are several types of compensation available. Most of them involve mental or emotional stress that prevents a person from being able to act or live the way they want. In personal injury law some of the more common types of emotional distress conditions include: anxiety disorder, depression, humiliation, insomnia, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The total amount of money a person receives for emotional distress depends on the situation – the circumstances surrounding the personal injury incident. Typically, a jury will decide on the amount of the damages. Georgia’s laws on pain and suffering are relatively broad and allow the jury to determine the damages without a monetary cap.
Have Additional Questions? Contact Burrow & Associates’ Personal Injury Team
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an accident, please reach out to Burrow & Associates at (678) 323-2394 or via our online contact form. Emotional distress compensation can be a challenging issue under Georgia law. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys can explain your best options and help get you on the road to recovery.