When someone is severely injured or a family loses a loved one, there will be mental and emotional damages in addition to economic losses. A jury that is considering an award for a personal injury or a wrongful death lawsuit might focus more on tangible losses, such as current and future medical bills and wage loss. However, often the biggest impact on an injured person and their family comes from less tangible losses including depression, a diminished ability to do daily tasks, and loss of enjoyable hobbies.
For example, when someone loses a leg in an accident, they may not be able to do many activities that they previously enjoyed. An injured person may no longer be able to play football or go hunting. An offshore worker who suffers a back injury may not be able to take care of himself and will have to rely on others for daily personal tasks. A diminished quality of life and increased dependence on others can, and often does, result in depression.
And it is not just the injured person who suffers emotionally – family members are also affected. A person with a spinal cord injury who must spend the rest of their life in a wheel chair will certainly suffer mentally from the injury – but family members who are responsible for their care will also suffer from stress and find their lives diminished.
With a wrongful death, the family members left behind can experience post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the loss of a loved one. When a father is killed in an industrial accident, for example, the children are left without a father and the spouse must raise the children alone. There will of course be the economic loss of the father’s wages, but there are less tangible losses such as stress, depression and loneliness.
Under Louisiana Civil Code article 2315, personal injury plaintiffs are permitted to recover for all of their injuries, including mental and emotional injuries. However, since juries may not immediately understand the mental affects of an injury or death, it is often necessary for the plaintiff’s injury attorney to hire experts to explain to the jury and the judge the plaintiff’s mental injuries. With the example of the father killed as the result of a wrongful death, a psychological expert can testify about the effects the father’s death will have on the children and present scientific data to prove their emotional pain and suffering.
Particularly with severe injuries or a wrongful death, it is not enough for your personal injury attorney to argue that you are suffering emotionally and mentally. Your attorney must also bring in an expert to present hard data and test results that will substantiate this claim. Your psychological expert will present evidence through testing which detects and measures depression and mental pain and suffering. The jury simply may not believe that you are suffering mentally without scientific proof. So in order to obtain a fair judgment for the injured person and their family, the experienced personal injury lawyer must hire the appropriate experts to prove emotional pain in addition to other more tangible losses.