Friday, May 6, 2011
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE? Can I collect for my emotional distress or injury if I'm not directly physically injured?
Of course if you sustain a serious physical injury due to the negligence of another, and there is accompanying emotional distress, recovery for that distress is not normally in question. But what if there is no direct physical impact, just fright, fear, nervousness or the like that result from someone's negligent conduct? An experienced Baltimore personal injury attorney will tell you "[I]n earlier times, courts did not recognize a specific duty to refrain from the negligent infliction of emotional distress and that, as a result, recovery of damages solely for mental distress was not permitted. Instead, damages for mental distress had a parasitic status; recovery was dependent upon an immediate physical injury accompanying an independently actionable tort." [internal quotations omitted] Hoffman v. Stamper, 385 Md. 1, 867 A.2d 276 (Md., 2005). Over time, courts changed the older rule, adopting instead the "modern rule," which permitted recovery for negligent infliction of mental distress if a physical injury resulted from the commission of the tort, regardless of [an] impact" which caused immediate physical injury. Id. Some "physical injuries" resulting from negligently inflicted emotional or mental distress that have been recognized by the courts include: depression, emotional upset, loss of appetite, insomnia, nightmares, loss of weight, extreme irritation, and "nervous prostration". Vance v. Vance, 408 A.2d. 728. An experienced Baltimore personal injury attorney can evaluate if you have such a claim, and help you document, quantify, and prove it.