Some accident victims can relate to experiencing some form of suffering that is not of a physical nature after an accident. Some state that they felt distress, fear, depression, anger, grief or even trauma. Such feelings are categorized as mental anguish. Mental anguish is an element of non-economic damages that are usually sought after in personal injury cases. According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, mental anguish is defined as, "a type of suffering that can be compensated in a personal injury case, generally meaning significant mental suffering that may include fright, feelings of distress, anxiety, depression, trauma or grief." Due to an accident, a victim may recover mental anguish as a part of his or her personal injury compensation for damages and losses incurred as the result of an accident. This article will discuss the history of damages for mental anguish and the categorizing of mental anguish as non-economic damages.
History of Damages for Mental Anguish
Damages relating to mental anguish date back to Roman delicts, which is equivalent to today’s court system. The basic Roman delicts name 'iniuria', means injury to person and 'damnum iniuria datum', means damage to property. Under iniuria the victim who had been wronged was required to show that the at fault party had acted willfully and intentionally so as to recover damages. This was done by the plaintiff out of a sense of outrage and not necessarily out of an actual economic loss. Therefore, the plaintiff’s compensation was based on, 'pain or the stress of mind or body', in addition to other damages. While iniuria required proving ill will, damnum iniuria datum required showing negligence. Hence the evolution and development of law relating to mental anguish which is the pain or the stress of mind.
Non-economic damages can be defined as compensation that is claimed against an 'intangible harm suffered by a plaintiff such as severe pain, physical and emotional distress and disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life that an injury causes, mental anguish, humiliation, loss of consortium, etc. Because non-economic damages are claims against intangible harm, their calculation is very difficult. There is no standard formula used to calculate such non-economic damages therefore, each case is based on its own unique circumstances, case elements and jury or judge. Mental anguish is a non-economic damage that is similar to pain and suffering. The plaintiff's ability to explain and prove his or her mental anguish is a key determining factor in the compensation amount awarded by the judge or jury.
Are you a victim of personal injury due to an accident that wasn’t your fault? Have you suffered mental anguish as a result of the accident? For more information on mental anguish, motorcycle accidents settlements contact a law firm of renowned professionals to represent your interests and to provide legal advice.