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Can You Get Compensation for Emotional Distress Caused by an Accident?

Recovering Damages for Mental Anguish Due to Someone Else’s Wrongful Act

Can You Get Compensation for Emotional Distress Caused by an Accident?If you have been injured because of someone else’s intentional, reckless or negligent conduct, you know that some of the most debilitating injuries can be the ones that are hardest to see—the mental pain and suffering that can accompany any type of injury. Maybe you have physical scars that cause you embarrassment. Maybe the experience of the accident has led to constant fears about engaging in certain activities, like riding in a car. Maybe you weren’t even the victim of an accident—maybe you witnessed serious bodily injury to or the death of a loved one. Can you recover for emotional or mental distress in a personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey?

The Different Types of Emotional Distress Claims in New Jersey

Damages are available in New Jersey for the infliction of emotional distress. New Jersey defines emotional distress as any mental suffering arising as consequence of an injury or accident. It is most commonly associated with anxiety, fear, anger or nervousness, but is generally considered to be different from depression (which may, however, be a symptom of emotional distress).

An injured person can seek compensation for:

  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress

What Is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?

In limited situations, a person may be able to recover compensation for intentional infliction of emotional distress:

  • The victim must prove that the defendant (person from whom damages are sought) acted intentionally or recklessly
  • The defendant’s conduct must typically have been extreme or outrageous, commonly referred to as “beyond all possible bounds of decency”
  • The emotional distress suffered must have been “reasonably foreseeable” as a consequence of the defendant’s actions

What Is Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress?

Under the general principles of negligence, everyone in society has a duty not to do things that pose an unreasonable risk of harm to others. That includes an unreasonable risk of emotional injury or distress. To be liable for negligent infliction of emotional distress, a person must have done something that a jury considers unreasonable, which caused emotional injury or distress to another person.

Like many states, New Jersey allows a bystander to seek compensation for negligent infliction of emotional distress, but requires that:

  • The person seeking damages witnessed serious bodily injury or death
  • The victim was a spouse or close family member

Contact Howard D. Popper, P.C.

At Howard D. Popper, P.C., we can help protect your rights. For a free initial consultation to discuss your options after any type of personal injury, contact our office online or call 973-993-8787 to set up an appointment. We have offices in Morristown and Newton.

We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.