Legal Blog

Emotional Trauma

Attorney David I. Fuchs


Attorney David I. Fuchs


Sep. 18, 2014



A personal injury case is often presented with evidence of injury—scrapes, bruises, broken bones, hospital bills, and so forth. But when a victim suffers emotionally or mentally after a car accident or other traumatic event caused by someone else’s negligence, it can be hard to determine how to proceed, personal injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale say. While that person’s pain is no less real than a car accident victim’s whiplash or broken arm, it can be harder to prove the personal injury aspect, and the fault of the other party. 

The very nature of emotional or mental traumas make them hard to analyze, and to pin down exactly what the victim has experienced in the aftermath of a catastrophe. For example, a person who has been in a car accident, but walked away physically unscathed, may be afraid to get back out on the road, and may suffer extreme mental anguish every time he or she has to drive or ride somewhere. The fear of being in a car accident can become crippling, keeping the victim from leaving the house or fully living his or her life. 

A person can also experience severe emotional or mental trauma as a witness to something terrible—seeing a loved one get hit by a car, learning that a child or family member has been harmed, abused, or sexually assaulted, having a relative be a victim of medical malpractice, being served a plate of food with a foreign object in it, and many others. In these cases, there is no physical damage done to the victim, but he or she is nonetheless permanently affected by the event. The trauma caused by these scenarios can be detrimental to a person’s emotional health, well-being, and stability. 

In Florida, emotional trauma personal injury lawsuits are governed by the “impact rule,” a set of guidelines that can be used to determine whether a person who has suffered mental or emotional damage from a negligent accident can recover damages. According to the impact rule, the victim must have come in some type of physical contact—no matter how long or to what degree—in order to recover emotional damages only, even if you were not physically harmed by the contact. So if you were in the car when the accident occurred, or if a bank robber put his gun in your stomach to threaten you, but you were not injured, you can still claim emotional trauma. 

 The impact rule does have some exceptions, Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers say. You can seek emotional damages if your trauma has demonstrated itself in a tangible way—if you are suffering headaches, dizziness, sleeplessness, night trauma, or even stress that contributes to a heart attack, palpitations, or other health complications. Additionally, an emotional damages lawsuit is possible if you were involved with the event that caused your trauma in some way, such as being a nurse in an operating room during a procedure that goes wrong due to the doctor’s malpractice or negligence. You can also seek a claim if you had a close personal relationship with the injured victim of a traumatic event. 

To discuss your case, and the options available to you under Florida’s laws, contact David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. today. Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers represent clients who have suffered physical and emotional injuries and trauma as a result of someone else’s negligence.