What Are Emotional Damages?

By Greg Kohn

Personal injury victims in New Jersey may be eligible for compensation to aid their recovery after an injury accident. 

Economic damages reimburse injury victims for calculable expenses such as property damage, medical bills, and lost wages.

But how are victims compensated for psychological and emotional distress suffered as the result of an accident?  New Jersey law allows accident victims to file compensation claims for emotional damages caused by the intentional or negligent infliction of harm by others. 

But, what are emotional damages under New Jersey law? Let’s take a look.

Emotional Distress After an NJ Personal Injury Accident

The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice defines emotional distress as “significant mental suffering or distress,” covering a range of symptoms such as:

  • Shock
  • Humiliation
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Depression 

While this definition is cited concerning the specific crime of stalking, it serves as a point of reference for New Jersey personal injury attorneys litigating personal injury emotional distress lawsuits. 

As with victims of violent crime, it’s not uncommon for accident injury victims to experience psychological trauma or emotional distress after an accident. Symptoms may manifest immediately, weeks, or even months later. 

With the help of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, you can seek financial damages for your trauma. The money you receive can help pay for counseling and psychological care and compensate you for your pain and suffering. 

Types of Emotional Damages Considered by New Jersey Courts

When filing your personal injury emotional damages claim, it’s essential you understand that emotional distress falls under two distinct categories: intentional Infliction and negligent infliction. 

Intentional infliction cases must meet 4 criteria:

  1. The defendant must have acted recklessly or intentionally, with intent to both commit the act and produce emotional distress
  2. The defendant’s conduct must be extreme and outrageous, beyond decency, and utterly atrocious and intolerable in a civilized society.
  3. The defendant’s actions must have proximately caused the emotional distress of the plaintiff.
  4. The plaintiff’s emotional distress must be beyond what any reasonable person could be expected to endure.

In cases where the defendant did not intend to inflict emotional distress on the victim but emotional distress resulted from the defendant’s actions, a case for negligent infliction of emotional distress may be argued.

Negligent infliction cases require 3 points of proof:

  1. The plaintiff witnessed or was victim to the accident which caused serious bodily injury to another or one’s self.
  2. The defendant’s negligent actions directly resulted in serious bodily injury to the victim(s).
  3. Observation of the event or accident resulted in severe emotional distress to the plaintiff. 

Victims of intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress who prove these elements may be awarded financial compensation for their anguish. The compensation awarded depends on each case’s unique circumstances and is generally proportional to the victim’s suffering.

Should I Contact a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer About Emotional Distress?

Emotional injury resulting from another’s negligence can devastate your quality of life and leave you permanently psychologically damaged.

If you or someone you love is suffering from emotional distress following an injury accident, contact our New Jersey law firm today. We will connect you with an experienced personal injury who can assess your case and advise you regarding your legal options. 

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.