Mental Anguish - How to Prove

Element of Damage – Mental Anguish:

An element of damage that you can recover for is Mental Anguish. Most people think of this as the way you were affected mentally due to the injury. The value of the mental anguish depends on the case. Typically getting a jury to award mental anguish money is difficult. So typically, insurance adjusters do not offer much on this element of damage unless there is some strong evidence that shows mental anguish was incurred (usually it needs to be more than just the person saying they suffered mentally, they need outside evidence - witnesses, doctors, etc., and the evidence needs to be strong).

Law:

Mental anguish is typically lumped together with physical pain in personal injury claims. But it is recognized as its own separate element of damage in Texas. Texas allows recovery of mental anguish without physical injury ONLY in the following circumstances: 1) bystander cases; 2) intentional tort – child abduction; 3) defamation; 4) invasion of privacy; 5) telegraph co. failing to deliver a death message in a timely manner (from the old days – still a law though); 6) handling a corpse negligently.

Courts in Texas have described mental anguish as a high degree of mental pain/anguish, more than mere disappointment, resentment, embarrassment, or anger. Things such as grief, severe disappointment, public humiliation, despair, shame, wounded pride, or indignation are more like what the courts consider to be “mental anguish” in Texas. One court allowed a $1,000,000.00 verdict for mental anguish based on sleeplessness, ulcers, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fear and anxiety.

Cases where mental anguish has been allowed - Negligent injury to a child – for the parents, legal malpractice claims (if more than just an economic loss),

Cases where mental anguish has not been allowed are – damage to property, loss of parental consortium, death of a fetus, adulterous relationships, woman was not allowed to recover where an employee of a store entered her house to recover overdue videotapes.

Evidence and Proof:

For mental anguish damages, there must be evidence of nature, severity or duration of plaintiff’s anguish substantially disrupting the injured party’s daily routine, or such a high degree of mental pain that is more than anger, embarrassment, vexation, anxiety, or worry. Words such as “I was hot”, “I was just upset”, “it was just upsetting”, are just mere emotions and not enough to recover for mental anguish.

Future mental anguish can be recovered if there is a reasonable probability of additional future mental anguish.

There is no set formula for mental anguish’s amount of recovery.

There does not have to be a physical manifestation of the mental anguish to recover. Texas courts have given a list of cases where mental anguish can be recovered even if no physical injury 1) knowing violation of DTPA, 2) bystander recoveries, 3) invasion of privacy, 4) handling of corpse, 5) death messages, 6) battery, 7) negligent conduct causing wrongful death, and 8) negligent physical injury to a person.

Just because someone asserts mental anguish does NOT put the plaintiff’s mental condition in controversy – so no mental exam can be compelled. (Previous mental problems are different from mental anguish from an injury – not enough to compel a mental exam).

Personal Injury Areas We Help With Are:

Auto Accident and Injury Cases, Personal Injury Cases, 18 Wheeler & Commercial Vehicle Injury Accident Cases, Motorcycle Accident and Injury Cases, Wrongful Death Cases, Pedestrian Injured by Automobile Cases, Slip and Fall & Premises Cases, Workplace & Constructions Injury Cases, Dog Bite Injury Cases, Bicyclers Hit by Automobile Cases .

Types of Coverage in Automobile Injury Cases:

Automobile Liability Insurance, Uninsured Motorist Insurance, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Medpay Insurance, Property Damage & Collision Coverages for Your Auto

Damages Often Recoverable in Personal Injury Cases Include the Following:


Past and future medical bills, past and future lost earning capacity, past and future lost income, past and future physical impairment, past and future disfigurement, past and future mental anguish, past and future pain and suffering, property damage, loss of use of your property - such as rental car bills, storage, total loss of property, diminished value of property, loss of body member (arm, leg, . . .), loss of body capacity (hearing, eyesight, . . . ), loss of consortium (spouse, parental, child/filial), loss of services, emotional/mental trauma (bystander injury), prenatal injury, exemplary damages, prejudgment interest, attorney's fees, and court costs.

By Doug Goyen, douggoyen@gmail.com 

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