Mental and emotional distress, including insomnia, fear, depression, anxiety, and anger, is common after suffering a personal injury. Florida is one of the five remaining states that still use the physical impact rule to judge an emotional distress claim.
Attorneys in Central Florida typically ask for personal injury compensation for emotional distress when filing an injury lawsuit. The Florida Supreme Court has relaxed the guidelines for this type of damage claim in recent years. However, it can still be a bit tricky when a claim solely involves emotional distress. Therefore, it’s essential for anyone considering a suit with this type of injury to understand the minimum legal standards to pursue it.
How Could the Impact Rule Affect Your Emotional Distress Claim?
One of the most challenging aspects of emotional distress personal injury cases is demonstrating the connection between the emotional trauma you experienced from an event and the physical harm it caused you. An example of this could be a situation where you witness your loved one die after slipping down some stairs. This experience caused you so much emotional distress that you developed ulcers and insomnia.
In the below cases, the court made sure that Florida legal standards required physical manifestation or physiological impact of emotional injuries to claim damages.
- 1985 Florida Supreme court case Champion vs. Gray: A grieving man was awarded damages over the death of his spouse. She had suffered a fatal heart attack from the intense emotional pain of seeing the body of her daughter, who a drunk driver had just killed.
- 1985 Florida Supreme Court case Zell v. Meek: In this personal injury emotional distress claim, a woman watched as an anonymous bomber killed her father. The woman was not physically injured. Still, she did struggle with depression, insomnia, lack of short-term memory, fear, bad dreams, and constant recollection of the event.
Personal injury claims like these frequently require expert testimony to bolster your argument further. A skilled central Florida attorney will need to provide persuasive evidence that your physical injuries resulted from that experience. Insurers often fight these cases and will challenge any connections that prove your claim.
At Jordan Law, our team will meticulously prepare your court case. From gathering evidence, requesting medical records, and obtaining necessary testimony and expert opinions, your lawsuit will be positioned as favorably as possible when we go to trial.
How Emotional Distress Cases Formed the Florida Impact Rule
The Impact Rule goes back to an 1893 Florida Supreme Court ruling on International Ocean Telegraphing Company v. Saunders in Florida. This was an emotional distress claim in a personal injury case where the plaintiff sued the telegraph company for monetary compensation and punishment. His wife was dying, and the hospital sent a telegram urging him to come at once – but the telegram company failed to deliver the message promptly.
The underlying idea behind the Florida Impact Rule is that physical injuries are tangible and straightforward to prove. But, emotional damages are intangible and difficult to show. By demonstrating the physical manifestation of mental trauma, this gap is bridged, making it possible for victims to receive compensation from negligent parties that caused them distress.
The Florida state legislature and Supreme Court have refused to eliminate the impact rule, but they have made some exceptions.
These exceptions are:
- Consuming any contaminated food or drink.
- A psychotherapist who neglects their duty of patient confidentiality and privacy.
- In violation of Florida Statute 381.004, an entity that releases unauthorized results of an HIV test.
- Victims of intentional torts, such as privacy invasion, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress is a rare but possible claim.
- If a relative witnesses a close family member suffering a wrongful death or severe injury, it’s possible to get emotional distress damages.
- Freestanding torts, such as wrongful birth or negligent stillbirth. These incidents mostly happen in unique relationships, such as school-student, doctor-patient, etc.
Get the Compensation You Deserve for Your Central Florida Emotional Distress Claim
If you or a loved one have suffered emotional distress due to witnessing a harrowing accident or through the negligent actions of others, Jordan Law is here for you. We believe that all injuries deserve to be compensated, whether they are visible or invisible.
Trust us to thoroughly investigate your claim and build a solid case by using evidence and expert testimony to show how the trauma you suffered has hurt you physically. You shouldn’t be forced to live with the effects of debilitating distress.
Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about what rights you have to compensation.