Physical injuries are obvious. You can see when you have a cut, burn, or broken bone, and there are tests for determining the source or cause of an internal injury. However, psychological damages are a little more complicated to diagnose, although not any less important. Today’s technology is advancing quickly, but we have far less brain scan images available than we need to help us diagnose every possible mental disorder. There are many causes of severe psychological distress and/or injury, and the damages sought after in court are most often tacked on to other related litigation. For instance, you may include psychological injury to the damages from a sexual assault, medical malpractice incident, car accident, or even a worker’s compensation lawsuit. The list is endless. Still, you may be wondering what exactly counts as “psychological injury” and how you prove it in a case.
In order for the courts to award psychological damages in a case, the plaintiff must first prove that the resulting mental stress is in fact present and that it was a reasonable outcome for the alleged event. Although everyone reacts to certain traumas differently, a reasonable person won’t have severe or lasting psychological stress from finding a dead bug in their food one time. There may be some people who react that way, but it isn’t the norm. However, with sexual assault and abuse cases, psychological damages are almost always awarded because most people would develop some form of mental stress from that type of violation. Feeling upset or sad over something isn’t enough in the court’s eyes to constitute psychological damages. The result must be severe enough to create a marked change from before and after the event. For instance, if a car accident victim now suffers from severe anxiety in relation to driving, they must prove the anxiety would not have appeared had it not been for the car accident.
To build a case for psychological injury you must also prove that the trauma impedes your daily life in some way. You may have to log examples throughout your day when the mental injury affected you, such as anxiety about driving a car after a car accident or bouts of insomnia after another traumatic event. You may also need to include in your evidence sessions you’ve had with a counselor or psychiatrist, prescriptions or medication you are taking to ease the symptoms, and even testimony from mental health field experts attesting your presented symptoms point to psychological injury. Personal history can even play an important role in proving you didn’t have signs and symptoms before the event or that the event itself compounded an already existing mental stress. For example, you may have struggled with PTSD from a previous trauma, but this new trauma re-opened those old wounds even more severely than last time.
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms of psychological injury, it’s important to discuss them with your lawyer immediately so that you are awarded the full compensation you deserve. Increased anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, suicidal thoughts or actions, and anguish over chronic pain are all considered signs of a psychological injury. Lawyers who specialize in personal injury lawsuits will also have the skills necessary to determine if your mental injuries also merit compensation. The lawyers at MG Law in Ottawa, Ontario have extensive experience with personal injury cases. Not only will they offer you a free initial consultation to explore the odds your case has in court, but they will also meet you wherever you are located if you are unable to travel due to your injuries. When dealing with a psychological injury, it’s important to have a lawyer on your side you can trust to fight on your behalf. The last thing you need is to compound your psychological stress with an incompetent lawyer.
Although psychological injuries are usually associated with personal injury lawsuits, they can also stand alone as their own cases. You may have been in a situation that caused you no physical harm, but you still experienced serious and lasting damages. If you were the victim of abuse in the healthcare system, experienced inhumane torment in a prison, or were subject to harassment at your workplace, you can file for psychological damages. Whether your psychological injuries were associated with another event or stand alone as the result of mental abuse, there are limitations on how long you have to file a claim against the defendant. Most cases have deadlines of two to six years from when the event occurred or from when you started showing symptoms. Your lawyer will be able to determine which deadlines apply to your specific case. It’s important to talk with a lawyer at the first hint of psychological damage so you don’t accidentally miss your chance at compensation.
Psychological injury has only been adapted more commonly into court systems and compensation claims in modern times. Many people have not recognized mental and emotional trauma on the same level as physical trauma until only recently. Because of this, many courts don’t have set regulations, but at the same time carry more flexibility, in determining compensation amounts for these claims. A good lawyer can make all the difference in getting you a fair settlement for your damages and walking away with nothing.
Mental wounds can carry with them a difficult road to healing, and most of the time seeking compensation through litigation is an important step in that healing process. Although psychological injury has become more common in trials and accepted in the mainstream, there is still much to be learned about the brain and emotional distress in general. For now, Canadian courts recognize psychological injury as the resulting mental trauma from an event that any reasonable person would respond to in a severely negative fashion. The plaintiff must also prove that the psychological injury would not have occurred without the interference of the defendant in question. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to a psychological injury, seek help from both a trained mental health professional and a lawyer right away.