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Can I sue over emotional distress from a car accident?

Columbia, SC |

I was rear-ended recently with my infant in the back seat of the car while waiting for traffic to pass trying to make a left turn. The car was totalled and I had minor face injuries from making contact with the steering wheel and I didn't remember it. My child is 10 months old and he was throwing up at the scene and not sleeping well and afraid to ride in the car for the next few days. Would that be grounds for emotional distress?

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Attorney answers 4


Are you asking about your child's emotional distress or yours? If your child's anxiety about the car has resolved, I'd tell you that there isn't a basis to pursue a claim for your child. As for you, you clearly have a claim for your physical injuries. If you have been medically treated for emotional distress, you may be able to make a claim there as well. However, if you haven't sought treatment, then, as a practical matter, your claim would be limited to your physical injuries.


If you are suing for your child's emotional distress, there would not be a valid claim there for a 10-month old child. He can not reasonably be expected to remember the accident. If you are suing for your own emotional distress, the psychological damage that the accident caused would have to be so substantial that it prevented you from living a normal life and then recovery would be questionable. The physical injuries you sustained you could recover for as well as for any lost wages that you endured as a result of the accident.


Yes it is. You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow your doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to your medical records. Photograph your injuries and the damage done to any vehicle or other property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on dealing with many of the issues you are now facing. I have published a particular Legal Guide on emotional issues arising out of automobile accident trauma.

Legal Disclaimer:

Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to insure proper advice is received.


You should speak with a personal injury attorney in your area about whether or not this is something you can go on.

I hope this helps-

Nima Taradji

Disclaimer: I am a lawyer licensed in the State of Illinois only, and I am not your lawyer (unless you have been in my office and signed a contract). This communication is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. This is for informational purposes only.

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