The visible injuries from an auto accident are usually the most obvious ones, but the mental anguish and psychological suffering often last a lot longer.
In Texas, if you suffer an injury in an auto accident that was mainly the fault of a third party, you can seek compensation not only for your out-of-pocket medical expenses, damage to your vehicle and pain you suffered, but for psychological anguish too.
Claiming what you deserve can be challenging, though. Insurance companies frequently dig their heels in and downplay mental anguish because claims can be considerable. You generally need to present irrefutable evidence of mental anguish that forces them to pay up.
At the DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC, we will gather the necessary evidence, build your case, file the lawsuit, and manage the communications with the insurance company while you focus on recovery from your injuries.
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What is considered mental anguish in Texas?
In Texas, psychological pain is called mental anguish and it is treated as a separate issue from physical pain.
Mental anguish includes the injuries that nobody sees, except those living with you and who you are closest to.
While insurance company loss adjusters frequently attempt to trivialize the impact of mental anguish, its effects are real, can be long-lasting, and may warrant significant compensation.
Most people are familiar with the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is often used in military terms after soldiers return from battle.
A serious car accident can trigger similar psychological reactions in people, causing serious issues with sleep, maintaining work, and carrying out everyday duties. It may reduce the ability to function as before the accident. In short, the negative effects on the victim’s psychological wellbeing and quality of life can last long after the physical injuries have healed.
In Texas, you are within your rights to claim compensation for such psychological injuries after a car or truck accident.
Unfortunately, receiving what you deserve for your mental anguish is rarely straightforward. There are no x-rays, no physical wounds, and no photographs to demonstrate the serious psychological effects of the accident.
You will need to demonstrate to the court that your anguish extends beyond the normal worry, disappointment, resentment, embarrassment, anger, or other emotions that are considered “normal” after the trauma of an auto accident.
Insurance companies and even jurors may be skeptical of your mental injuries – especially if your physical injuries were relatively slight.
How can you prove mental anguish after an accident in Texas?
Many attorneys in Texas will only accept personal injury cases involving mental anguish claims if there is also physical pain and an injury resulting from the auto accident.
This is mainly because of Texas laws (outlined below) that make it difficult to win compensation for mental anguish without the presence of a physical injury. Proving that mental anguish is a direct result of an injury is considerably less challenging than if there is no physical injury.
For instance, it is not difficult to envisage how an eye injury that causes temporary or permanent blindness could also cause mental anguish.
However, mental anguish injuries are often challenging to prove unless you can demonstrate a clear consequence for the victim’s life – like the inability to work or the loss of consortium (sexual relations or normal family relationships).
Generally, to prove mental anguish in a Texas court, your lawyer will rely on the following evidence:
- Personal testimony
- Expert testimony e.g., from a psychologist
- Your medical records e.g., evidence of psychological or psychiatric treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.
- Documented evidence that demonstrates how the injury has affected daily life
Texas law regarding mental anguish
Under Texas law, you can claim for mental anguish separately from physical injury and pain. As explained already, your claim depends largely on whether the mental anguish is accompanied by physical injury.
- If there is a physical injury, mental anguish damages will generally be considered by the Texas courts.
- If there is no physical injury, you may be able to claim mental anguish if there was intentional or malicious conduct, a breach of a duty involving a special relationship, or particularly disturbing events surrounding the incident.
With auto accidents, as you can see, it is almost impossible to claim for damages without physical injury because few accidents meet the criteria except in a case where “particularly disturbing events” occurred. An example might be a bystander or pedestrian being injured by a drunk driver but cases like this are rare.
How are damages calculated for mental anguish?
There is no formula for calculating mental anguish in Texas.
Insurance adjusters usually offer little in this respect and, if the case goes to court, a judge will consider the evidence provided and may or may not award damages.
If a persuasive case is made for compensation for mental anguish, damages will be calculated based on how significantly you were affected mentally from your injuries and the precise circumstances.
This often requires strong external evidence from experts and careful presentation of medical records – elements of a case that personal injury lawyer, Ryan DeHoyos, is well-accustomed to presenting to judges in the Houston area.
Get help with a mental anguish claim in Houston…
Few personal injury cases are straightforward and mental anguish claims are amongst the most challenging.
With experienced guidance from Ryan DeHoyos, we can determine whether you have a valid case under Texas law. If so, we will help you understand the legal processes and build a case to maximize your claim.
Call DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC at (832) 745-4878 or contact us online for a free consultation.