What Constitutes a Psychological Injury?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Phillip Chupik with Metier Law Firm.
A psychological injury is a cognitive or emotional symptom which significantly impacts a person’s life. Psychological injuries are not uncommon but are less frequently discussed in personal injury law, most likely due to their intangible nature. However, if someone has suffered a psychological injury due to their physical injury, or vice versa, that person may be eligible for compensation for both types of damages.
Psychological injuries can be just as damaging as physical injuries, and can have long-lasting and even permanent effects on a person’s life and wellbeing. Damages for psychological injuries may include money to help pay for therapeutic and rehabilitative services, as well as monetary compensation for a person’s pain and suffering as a result of the incident.
There are varying definitions of psychological injury in law, but it is generally agreed upon that there are three types of psychological injury, including:
- Physical-Mental: A physical-mental psychological injury occurs after a physical injury was sustained, with the psychological effects of the injury further debilitating the victim.
- Mental-Physical: A mental-physical injury occurs when someone’s psychological stress is so severe that it causes a physical injury.
- Mental-Mental: This is perhaps the most straightforward kind of psychological injury, and may simply be referred to as trauma.
Psychological injuries are hard to prove.
Unlike physical injuries which can be seen and examined by a medical professional, psychological injuries are not immediately apparent. To prove a psychological injury in court in order to receive compensation for that injury, often falling into the category of pain and suffering, it may be necessary to call a variety of testimonies. Family and friends who have witnessed the changes in a victim’s personality, behavior, and mindset since the incident can testify in court.
If a jury can be convinced of the legitimacy of the victim’s psychological injury in relation to the incident, it is likely that they will decide that person’s damages should be compensated. However, due to the difficulty of proving psychological injuries even with the help of witness testimonies, it's a good idea to find an attorney with experience handling psychological injury cases.
If you have suffered a psychological injury, seek help.
It’s important to talk to somebody about your situation to ensure that you receive the help you need to recover. Therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists are just a few groups of people who undergo rigorous training in order to provide their clients with the best care possible. Additionally, it’s important to keep family and loved ones appraised of your current condition, both physically and psychologically, so that they can render aid where possible to help in your recovery.
Psychological injuries may be caused by a variety of situations, including but not limited to the following:
- Car accidents
- Ongoing abuse
- Childhood abuse
- Childhood neglect
- Catastrophic situations
- Life-threatening illness
- Life-threatening injuries
- The death of a loved one
- Severely humiliating experiences
- Job insecurity
- Work overload
- Natural disasters
- Animal attacks
These are many but not all of the causes of psychological injuries. Many psychological injuries coincide with physical injuries. Before seeking compensation for either one, it’s important to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your situation. A personal injury attorney can make sure your damages include compensation for both the physical and mental suffering you have experienced and/or are likely to experience in the future as a result. To learn more about psychological injury or to discuss your case, seek legal counsel.