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After a tragic car accident, everyone who has been involved should be examined and treated for any physical injury that they have sustained as a result of the accident.

In cases where one party has been negligent, the victim of the incident may bring a claim against the driver to settle up the medical bills, the damage done to the car or bicycle, and, in truly horrendous accidents, the price of a life. The physical damages of an accident can generally be tallied up because the tangible, physical injuries have tangible, physical remedies. However, what about the emotional trauma and damage that occurs from someone involved in an accident or even someone who has witnessed an accident?

Correlation Between Motor Vehicle Accidents and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

In a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, doctors noticed a link between victims who were involved in minor and major motor vehicle accidents and short and long-term psychiatric disorders that were not present in the victim before the accident. Many victims displayed post traumatic stress disorder symptoms, phobias relating to travel, and other mood swings and disorders. As the medical field researches further into post traumatic stress disorder, Courts are allowing for victims to bring suit for non-physical damages that they have sustained as a result of the accident.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

New York Law allows for a victim to bring a cause of action known as "Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress," which determines that anyone with a non-physical, mental trauma that results from someone acting negligently may receive damages. New York law has restrictions regarding victims who may bring this type of case to court. The following are some of the restrictions to the law:

  • The defendant must have had a duty of care to the victim and acted in a way that unreasonably endangered the victim's safety or caused the victim to fear for her life;
  • The victim must have been in the "zone-of-danger," meaning he must have been in the vicinity of immediate danger of bodily harm caused by the defendant acting unreasonably; and
  • A victim who has witnessed a collision may only recover if her emotional trauma was caused by the contemporaneous witnessing of the serious injury or death of a family member, which was due to the defendant's negligence.

The negligent infliction of emotional distress allows victims to recover for damages for mental trauma that they have undergone as a result of the defendant's negligent actions. The fact that a victim may bring a claim allows for the system to justly compensate a victim who may have insignificant physical damages, but who is suffering extensively from mental or emotional damages.

NYC Personal Injury Attorneys

Because the law is still evolving, the granting of damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress is decided on a case-by-case basis and is very fact-specific. It is important that you meet with an attorney if you have been in a car or mass transit accident and you have sustained not only physical but emotional injuries.

Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Keogh Crispi, P.C., who serve the New York City area, will be able to guide you through the process and help you recover damages owed to you as a result of your physical and mental or emotional injuries. Please contact us for an initial consultation either by calling us at 212-818-0600 or by sending us a message online.

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Keogh Crispi

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Phone: 212-518-2417
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