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How Much Can I Sue for Emotional Distress?

  1. There Are No Damage Caps in Washington State
  2. You Can Recover Every Noneconomic Damage Associated With Your Case
  3. Your Case Must Illustrate These Elements to Recover Emotional Distress
  4. You Have a Limited Time to Sue for Emotional Distress
  5. You Could Get Financial Compensation for Emotional Distress Through a Claim
  6. Get Legal Help for Your Washington Personal Injury Case

Several different factors affect how much you could sue for emotional distress in Washington State. Every case is different, and there is no automatic or guaranteed amount of monetary damages for emotional distress in our state. You should talk to your personal injury lawyers about which factors are relevant in your situation.

Herschensohn Law has secured millions of dollars for injured clients, including for emotional distress and other noneconomic damages. We intend to recover the full cost of your injury-related losses, including those you haven’t incurred yet. To start your free case review, call (206) 588-4344

There Are No Damage Caps in Washington State

As noted, there is no cap on noneconomic damages like emotional distress. The law in our state leaves it up to the discretion of the jury or judge to determine what constitutes fair compensation. 

These factors can affect how much you could request for emotional distress and other noneconomic damages: 

  • The medical bills you have to support your case
  • Whether the accident exacerbated a pre-existing condition 
  • The severity of your condition and the accident itself 
  • Your condition’s effect on your daily life 
  • Your estimated recovery period 
  • Whether you lost a loved one to wrongful death 
  • The physical symptoms your condition presented 

Your missed time from work, quality of life, and role in the accident will also determine what you can recover. 

You Can Recover Every Noneconomic Damage Associated With Your Case

Emotional distress is a noneconomic damage, meaning it doesn’t come with documentation like receipts and invoices. It’s still compensable and a vital part of your injury claim. Financial recovery for pain, suffering, and other noneconomic damages include:  

  • Physical pain and emotional suffering 
  • Mental anguish
  • Inconvenience
  • Mental distress 
  • Permanent disfigurement 
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of function

As you can see, many different things can fall under the umbrella of noneconomic damages. Just like with emotional distress, how much you can recover depends on your situation. 

You Can Also Recover Economic Losses 

Pain, suffering, and emotional distress are just some types of damages you can include in your personal injury case’s value. You can also recover the cost of your economic losses, which are losses that come with documentation. These financial losses include: 

  • Medical treatment, including treatment expenses
  • Lost income, tips, bonuses, and benefits 
  • Property damage costs 
  • Out-of-pocket costs, including childcare costs and lawncare 

Compensation intends to make you “financially whole” after suffering a physical injury, whether you were hurt in an auto accident, slip and fall, or another incident.

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Your Case Must Illustrate These Elements to Recover Emotional Distress

Let’s say that you got injured in a car crash. The other driver is not automatically liable for your damages. Your car accident lawyer must prove these elements to hold the defendant liable for your losses:

  1. The defendant owed you a legal duty of care. Typically, this factor is relatively easy to establish in motor vehicle collisions because everyone who operates a car, truck, or other motor vehicle on the streets in our state has a legal obligation to drive carefully and obey traffic laws.
  2. The defendant breached their duty of care. Failing to satisfy a legal duty of care is negligence. For example, a driver who took their eyes off the road to answer their cell phone did not drive carefully, so they were negligent. Not all negligence, however, results in liability. An ordinary driver could be negligent several times a day and never cause a collision. 
  3. The negligence caused the accident. Only carelessness that causes injury to another person can be grounds for liability. The “no harm, no foul” rule applies to most personal injury cases. A near miss is seldom sufficient justification for a personal injury claim or lawsuit. If, however, the negligence caused the accident and your injuries, the at-fault party can be liable.
  4. The plaintiff suffered quantifiable losses. Physical injuries satisfy the fourth and final element required to establish the at-fault party’s liability. By proving these elements, you could hold another party accountable for the cost of your injury-related losses. 

You could benefit from hiring a personal injury attorney. They can gather evidence to demonstrate your case’s required elements.  

You Have a Limited Time to Sue for Emotional Distress

Every state, including Washington State, limits the time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. According to RCW § 4.16.080, you must file your personal injury lawsuit within three years or forever lose the right to seek compensation for your losses.

In other words, the party who caused your injuries through negligence or an intentional act gets a “get out of jail free” card regarding your personal injury lawsuit if you miss the filing deadline. To avoid this undesired outcome, you should consider your legal options as soon as possible. 

You Could Get Financial Compensation for Emotional Distress Through a Claim

You don’t have to file a lawsuit to recover emotional distress if the liable insurance company is willing to offer financial compensation. You can include that expense in your personal injury settlement without ever filing a lawsuit or going to court. 

Some people make the mistake of thinking that only a judge or jury can award damages for emotional distress, but that is not accurate. You can recover many of the same damages through a lawsuit as you would an injury claim.  

Get Legal Help for Your Washington Personal Injury Case

At Herschensohn Law, we offer a free initial consultation for personal injury cases. You can reach out to us today to get started. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these instances. We are proud of our no-fee guarantee, which means we only get our legal fees if you win. Call (206) 588-4344 to get started. Our experienced attorneys are ready to take legal action on your behalf today. 

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We’re proud to fight—and win—for injured people in Kent, Washington. View our case results to learn more.