There are dozens of categories of general damages that can result from a Massachusetts (MA) or RI car accident, Premises liability mishap, assault, fall on slippery substance or a motor vehicle wreck. General damages in RI and MA include emotional and psychological distress and harm caused by negligence. RI an MA Personal Injury Damages
These emotional damages can also result from an intentional wrong / tort such as assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress or criminal conduct causing injury. Property damage and damage to a business is beyond the scope of this particular post. The causation of psychological and emotional injuries are less widely understood then the typical injuries that result from an auto accident in Rhode Island such as: whiplash injury, spinal cord injury, herniated disk or shoulder, neck or back injuries.
Past and future physical or emotional pain and suffering
If a case involves allegations that a crash caused mental health problems, it may be necessary to call a psychiatrist or psychologist as a witness to the psychiatric treatment and the causation element. “Rhode Island law clearly requires evidence of relevant, physical symptomatology, albeit under a relaxed standard to support an emotional injury claim. See id; see also Grieco ex rel. Doe v. Napolitano, 813 A.2d 994 (R.I. 2003) (physical manifestations must be sufficient to support an emotional injury claim).” PERROTTI v GONICBERG Providence Superior Court decision
In, Grecio v Napolitano the Rhode Island Supreme Court reasoned that the RI Superior Court trial justice did not make a mistake by applying a liberal standard in requiring physical manifestations of emotional harm.
“The trial justice also referred to several cases in other jurisdictions that have found evidence of sleep and eating disorders, inability to function, and antisocial behavior, as sufficient evidence of physical manifestations of an emotional injury. See Czaplicki v. Gooding Joint School District, 116 Idaho 326, 775 P.2d 640, 646 (1989) (finding that the physical symptoms of severe headaches, occasional suicidal thoughts, sleep disorders, reduced libido, fatigue, stomach pains, and loss of appetite are manifestations of emotional injuries); Vance v. Vance, 286 Md. 490, 408 A.2d 728, 734 (1979) (holding that an inability to sleep, socialize, or function normally were objective manifestations of a mental disorder); First National Bank v. Langley, 314 So.2d 324, 328 (Miss.1975) (finding that severe nightmares may be considered evidence of physical injury). Consequently, the trial justice found by a preponderance of the evidence that Grieco met the threshold level of proof to satisfy a fact-finder that emotional harm causally was connected to defendant’s behavior. We agree with the trial justice that John’s physical manifestations were sufficient to support the emotional injury present in this case.” GRIECO EX REL. DOE v. NAPOLITANO
There are some instances in Rhode Island in which a person who was not physically injured in the pedestrian accident, bicycle crash or automobile accident can still recover for emotional/ psychological harm caused by the crash. Under RI law, the Courts recognize both the torts of negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Negligent Emotional Distress
The Rhode Island Supreme Court, sitting in the Capital City of Providence, in Marchetti v. Parsons, 638 A.2d 1047 (R.I. 1994) set forth the elements of the tort of negligent emotional distress: “a party must (1) be a close relative of the victim, (2) be present at the scene of the accident and be aware that the victim is being injured, and (3) as a result of experiencing the accident, suffer serious emotional injury that is accompanied by physical symptomatology.” Id., 638 A.2d at 1052.
Intentional Infliction of emotional distress
“ To prevail on a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a plaintiff must show extreme and outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant.‟” Jalowy v. Friendly Home, Inc., 818 A.2d 698, 707 (R.I. 2003) (quoting DiBattista v. State, 808 A.2d 1081, 1088 (R.I. 2002)). Although in the first instance, the determination of whether a defendant‟s conduct is so extreme and outrageous so as to permit recovery is a matter of law to be decided by the court, “[w]here reasonable men may differ, it is for the jury, subject to the control of the court, to determine whether, in the particular case, the conduct has been sufficiently extreme and outrageous to result in liability.” Restatement (Second) Torts, § 46 cmt. H” Empire v Bancorp Superior Court 2011 Source
“Under Rhode Island law, a plaintiff must prove four elements to maintain a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress: 1) the conduct must be intentional or done with reckless disregard for the probability of causing emotional distress; 2)the conduct must be extreme and outrageous; 3)there must be a causal connection between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress; and 4)the emotional distress suffered must be severe.” Forest
“Liability is only found where the conduct was so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and be regarded as intolerable in a civilized community. Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46 cmt. d at 73 (1965). See Champlin v. Washington Trust Co. of Westerly, 478 A.2d 985, 989 (R.I. 1984)(adopting the standard set forth in Section 46 of the Restatement Second of Torts).” Decision
Loss of consortium
Let’s take a look at the loss of consortium statute in Rhode Island. See 9-1-41 “– (a) A married person is entitled to recover damages for loss of consortium caused by tortious injury to his or her spouse.”
(b) An unemancipated minor is entitled to recover damages for the loss of parental society and companionship caused by tortious injury to his or her parent…..” § 9-1-41 Loss of consortium – Loss of society and companionship.
Disfigurement and Scarring Injuries:
If you are disfigured in a car, bicycle or bike crash it is important that you retain a disfigurement attorney who has experience in representing clients in disfigurement injury cases /claims. A disfigurement could be a laceration, amputation or loss of limb. In some cases a person might be disfigured or a victim of disfigurement as a result of a motor vehicle wreck. Especially in medical malpractice case, loss of enjoyment of life may be a crucial issue.
Car crashes in Rhode Island do not just cause serious physical injuries. Many vehicle accident victims can develop emotional issues that are not always as apparent as a broken arm or head trauma. Many emotional, mental and psychological injuries can hide just under the surface for weeks, months or years until the victim receives treatment.
While there is an assumption that individuals suffering a severe injury in a RI car crash tend to be more likely to develop psychiatric complications, the facts show otherwise. Studies conducted by the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford note that approximately 33 percent of car accident victims develop various non-apparent conditions including depression, persistent anxiety, stress disorders and accident-related phobias within the first year after the accident.
In some situations, the victim will feel a sense of anxiousness or nervousness when passing the accident site or when riding in a vehicle where the road or weather conditions mimic conditions at the time of the accident. However, these conditions often present themselves at times other than just when driving or riding as a passenger in a moving vehicle.
Pain and Suffering
In the legal world, emotional issues caused by a car crash are usually referred to as “pain and suffering.” Rhode Island Personal injury attorneys work with their clients in an effort to determine the full spectrum of their physical and emotional injuries. The RI car accident lawyer helps the client seek the best medical care to treat physical medical conditions caused by the accident and counseling to determine the level of emotional distress or mental anxiety the victim developed after the collision.
In many situations, emotional issues are brought on by physical impairments, disfigurement, amputation, scarring or other feature of their outward appearance. Common problems among accident victims include:
• A sense of emotional distress
• Embarrassment or humiliation
• Anxiety and a sense of worthlessness or helplessness
• A lack of interest in enjoyment, spending time with others or hobbies
• Bouts of uncontrollable crying
• Weight loss produced by loss of appetite or difficulty eating
• Weight fluctuation where the victim gains, loses and regains unwanted pounds and inches
• Severe anger
• Fatigue or overall lack of energy
• Sleep disturbances
• Problems with concentration, focus and thinking or challenges with mental acuity
• Mood swings
• Sexual disinterest
• Sexual dysfunction
• Challenges in making decisions
In some cases, the victim of a Mass. car collision will suffer severe emotional injuries and be diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or acute stress disorder. Many of the problems listed above are the first indicators that the victim is suffering from depression and has reached the breaking point.
Post-Accident Depression (PAD)
In less than a second, a Providence car crash can produce physical, mental and emotional injuries that last a lifetime. When the victim suffers post-accident depression, recovery from their emotional trauma can take years because restoring control over their life becomes an uphill battle.
Post-accident depression and trauma are real condition suffered by victims in the aftermath of a crash. Many drivers and passengers involved in a RI auto or car collision develop new found fears when riding or driving anywhere.
In fact, automobile accidents are now the number one cause of PAD and PTSD. The severity of the accident and the seriousness of injuries are contributing factors to the likelihood the victim will develop depression. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that nearly one out of every 10 survivors of a car accident will develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Injuries that produce physical impairments or place financial strains on the victim are also contributing factors for developing depression.
Many personal injury attorneys in Massachusetts who specialize in MA vehicle accidents can file a claim or lawsuit on behalf of their client claiming post-accident depression. Successful outcomes can be obtained when the attorney can prove the negligence of other drivers caused the collision. These types of cases are typically handled on contingency, meaning that the victim does not need to pay upfront fees.
Some car or bike accidents in Rhode Island or Mass. lead to a scar or scarring. A serious accident, especially a motorcycle accident, bicycle, big rig, bus or pedestrian accident could be disfiguring. This is especially the case if the victim receives a blow to the head and a traumatic head injury TBI or brain injury. A work related, industrial accident, construction accident, product liability mishap or work injury could cause nerve damage, a severed hand or loss of motor function If you were injured in a Rhode Island Motor Vehicle collision, pedestrian accident or trucking crash, please contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Rhode Island or a RI Car Accident Lawyer.