Mental Health in Personal Injury Cases

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, we want to share some important information on how mental health intersects with personal injury law.

Serious physical injuries often go hand-in-hand with serious mental health concerns. If you’re thinking about taking legal action in a personal injury case, you might be wondering if you can claim damages for mental health treatment, too.

The short answer? Yes. Mental health is health, and you should not hesitate to seek treatment when you need it.

What about the long answer?

In real life, though, it can be a little more complicated. In Washington, the injured person (the “plaintiff”) in a personal injury case is entitled to recover medical expenses related to injuries or conditions caused by the negligence of the opposing party (the “defendant”). Therefore, to get compensated for mental health expenses, you must be able to directly attribute the mental illness or condition to the defendant’s actions.

How can I show the connection between the incident and my mental health conditions?

The best way to show that your mental illness, trauma, or condition was caused by the incident in which you were injured is to get a qualified health care provider’s opinion. Referrals to mental health services, professional opinions, and medical records and chart notes can all be useful in showing the connection.

What kinds of conditions can I claim damages for?

Every case is different, so the answer will depend on your injuries, your history, and many other factors. Some examples of valid mental health concerns for which you may be able to recover treatment expenses include depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and phobias. If you are unsure and want to talk about the specifics of your case, call us at (360)-876-4800 to set up your free consultation.

What if I have a history of mental illness?

Personal history of mental illness does not preclude you from claiming mental health expenses in your case. In this situation, what matters is your ability to show that your conditions were aggravated, worsened, or lit up as a direct result of the incident in which you were injured. Just like how someone with a chronic physical injury may be entitled to damages if their symptoms were worsened as a result of an accident, someone with past mental health concerns may be entitled to damages if they had to increase medication or seek extra treatment.

What if I didn’t go to a doctor?

Many different psychological or emotional conditions can qualify as pain and suffering under general damages, and an injured person can often claim damages even outside of medical expenses. Some examples of mental health issues that might be considered under pain and suffering include emotional distress, shock, and humiliation. Even if you didn’t need to see a doctor, these are still valid concerns. If you have more questions about pain and suffering, check out last week’s post here.

What should I do if I was injured and developed mental health issues as a result of someone else’s actions?

Getting compensated for mental health issues can be confusing. Your best bet is to reach out to an attorney with experience navigating the complexities of a case involving mental health expenses. The attorneys at Becker Franklin Rovang have over 100 years of cumulative experience and a long history of success, including millions of dollars in settlements, arbitration awards, and verdicts for their clients. Most importantly, they can use their expertise to take many of the intimidating and frustrating matters off your plate so you can focus on what’s most important: your mental and physical health.

Contact us at (360)-876-4800 to schedule a no cost consultation and see how we can help.