If you or someone you care about has been injured in an accident, including a mental anguish injury accident, our Dallas personal injury attorney can help you recover quickly and rebuild your life. Since 1997, the Law Office of Doug Goyen has successfully represented thousands of injured clients in Dallas and throughout Texas in serious accident and personal injury cases.
If you were injured in an accident, you are probably concerned about unpaid medical bills, getting treatment for your injury and how you will pay for it, lost time from work and lost income as a result of the injury, receiving the full settlement value for your personal injury claim from the insurance adjuster, and hiring a personal injury lawyer who will get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
If you have questions about these issues in your personal injury case, contact the Law Office of Doug Goyen. We produce results for our customers. We will present your medical bills and records so that they can be paid, we will find a place where you can be treated for your injury, we will get the proof needed to pay for your lost income, and we will get you compensated for the full value of your personal injury claims, including pain and suffering, mental anguish, and any other elements of damage that apply to your personal injury case. Call us at (972) 599 4100.
Damage Element – Mental Anguish in Texas
Personal injury attorneys handle injury claims that are frequently related to physical injuries. This page discusses recovering mental anguish damages in personal injury cases such as car accidents, truck accidents, premises liability where a dangerous condition causes an injury, or any other type of personal injury case involving a physical injury that causes mental anguish. In many cases of physical injury, the injured person suffers physical pain and suffering as a form of damage, as well as mental anguish damages as a result of the changes in their life caused by the physical injury and pain.
In a personal injury case, one of the more difficult areas to recover from is mental anguish. Jurors are unable to see the mental anguish injury (unlike a broken bone on an x-ray). In some jurors’ eyes, mental anguish is almost likened to a type of mental illness, and mental illness issues are frequently considered “taboo” by many people. Jurors may be skeptical of the claim because it involves an injury that is not visible to them.
Most attorneys only accept personal injury cases involving mental anguish when the case involves some kind of physical injury and the mental anguish arises naturally as a result of the physical injury. An example would be an injury that caused a person’s vision to be permanently impaired. Obviously, in addition to the physical injury, the person would most likely experience mental anguish as a result of losing some or all of their vision. Other examples would be if their physical injury prevented them from continuing in a job or career they enjoyed, or if they were forced to stop participating in an activity they enjoyed, such as golfing or playing the piano. In many ways, it is related to loss of consortium, which is an element of damage when an injury prevents a person from having familial relationships, such as playing with their small children or losing the ability to have a sexual relationship with their significant other. Losing a significant portion of what you enjoy in life would undoubtedly cause significant mental anguish, and the law provides compensation for such an injury.
Damages for mental anguish are calculated based on how you were affected mentally as a result of the injury. The worth of mental anguish varies depending on the circumstances. Not all mental injuries are recoverable in a personal injury case. In many cases where the mental anguish is not obvious, getting a jury to award money for mental anguish is difficult. Unless there is strong evidence of significant mental anguish, insurance adjusters do not offer much on this aspect of damage (usually it needs to be more than just the person saying they suffered mentally, there needs to be outside evidence – witnesses, doctors, etc., and the evidence needs to be strong).
Texas Law Regarding Mental Anguish
Mental anguish claims have long been mistrusted in tort claims, according to Texas courts. They were first permitted in Texas cases where there was a physical injury or a particularly disturbing event had occurred. When mental anguish results in a physical manifestation, Texas courts have historically allowed recovery for mental anguish.See Parkway Co. v. Woodruff, 901 S.W.2d 434, 442 (Tex.1995) where the Texas Supreme Court discusses the types of proof required to support mental anguish damages in the past.
In City of Tyler v. Likes, 962 S.W.2d 489 (Tex. 1997) the Texas Supreme Court defines the types of cases in which mental anguish can be recovered. The Texas Supreme Court decided in this case that mental anguish is recoverable in the following types of cases:
1) Where there is a Physical injury: If a plaintiff suffers a physical injury, he or she may be able to recover mental anguish damages.
2) Where there is No physical injury: In cases involving a) intentional or malicious conduct, b) a breach of a duty involving a special relationship, and c) particularly disturbing events, a plaintiff can recover mental anguish damages.
a) Assault and battery, defamation, invasion of privacy, child abduction, or knowing violation of a statute such as the DTPA are examples of intentional or malicious conduct.
b) Breach of duty in a special relationship: Cases where mental anguish damages have been allowed in Texas include physician-patient relationships, insurer-insured relationships, handling of a corpse, and delivery of a death notice.
c) Particularly upsetting events include wrongful death as a result of grief and, in some cases, bystander injuries.
In personal injury cases, mental anguish is frequently lumped in with physical pain. In Texas, however, it is recognized as a distinct element of damage. Only in the following circumstances does Texas allow for the recovery of mental anguish without physical injury: 1) bystander cases; 2) intentional tort – child abduction; 3) defamation; 4) invasion of privacy; 5) telegraph company failing to deliver a death message in a timely manner (from the old days – still a law); and 6) negligent handling of a corpse.
Mental anguish has been defined by Texas courts as a high level of mental pain/anguish that is greater than mere disappointment, resentment, embarrassment, or anger. Grief, severe disappointment, public humiliation, despair, shame, wounded pride, or indignation are more akin to what Texas courts consider to be “mental anguish.” See Parkway Co. v. Woodruff, 901 S.W.2d 434, 442 (Tex.1995). One court upheld a $1,000,000.00 verdict for mental anguish caused by insomnia, ulcers, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fear and anxiety.
Cases where mental anguish has been permitted – Negligent injury to a child – legal malpractice claims for the parents (if more than just an economic loss).
In Texas, mental anguish is not permitted in the following circumstances: Damage to property, asbestos cases where the person is afraid of developing asbestos-related disease in the future, bystanders cannot recover mental anguish if they witness medical malpractice, negligent misrepresentation cases, loss of parental consortium, death of a fetus due to negligent treatment – However, she can recover mental anguish damages for the loss of her fetus as a part of her body, breach of contract cases, adulterous relationships, and the woman was not allowed to recover when a store employee entered her home to retrieve overdue videotapes.
Evidence and Proof Needed for Mental Anguish
There must be evidence of the nature, severity, or duration of the 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 for mental anguish damages. Words like “I was hot,” “I was just upset,” and “it was just upsetting” are just emotions, not enough to help you recover from mental anguish.
If there is a reasonable possibility of additional future mental anguish, future mental anguish can be recovered.
There is no set formula for the amount of recovery from mental anguish.
To recover, there does not have to be a physical manifestation of the mental anguish. Texas courts have provided a list of cases in which mental anguish can be recovered even if no physical injury has occurred. 1) knowing DTPA violation, 2) bystander recoveries, 3) invasion of privacy, 4) corpse handling, 5) death messages, 6) battery, 7) negligent conduct causing wrongful death, and 8) negligent physical injury to a person
Just because someone claims mental anguish does not call the plaintiff’s mental condition into question, so no mental exam can be ordered. (Previous mental problems are distinct from mental anguish caused by an injury – neither is sufficient to warrant a mental examination.)
TYPES OF CASES WE HANDLE
The Law Office of Doug Goyen handles motor vehicle accidents causing injuries, including car accident injury cases, truck accident injury cases, DWI accident injuries, bicyclists hit by cars, motorcycle accident injury cases, pedestrians hit by cars, in which negligence has resulted in physical injury or death. When a person is injured, they frequently suffer mental anguish damages as a result of the severity of the injury and the changes it causes in their life. If you have been physically injured and that injury has also caused mental anguish as a result of a car accident, please contact our office for assistance with your case.
If you have suffered a mental anguish injury accident, Attorney Goyen provides a free consultation as well as a free strategy session for personal injury cases. A summary of your case, identification of the legal issues involved in your case, and identification of those legal issues that will help maximize your recovery in your case are all part of the strategy session. We will email you a copy of this strategy session for your records. Call us at (972) 599 4100 right away. There is no fee unless and until you win.
Directions to our main North Dallas Office: (Click the following link for directions to our office: Law Office of Doug Goyen)
15851 Dallas Pkwy #605, Addison, Texas 75001