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Is Physical Injury Required to Recover for Emotional Distress in Georgia?

Unfortunately, accidents happen and can cause all kinds of severe physical pain. But what many do not consider is the emotional distress that is often suffered due to the experience. In a recent case before the Supreme Court of Georgia, the court looked at whether a plaintiff could recover for emotional distress without proof of physical injury. 

In this case, the plaintiff and his wife brought suit for negligence and gross negligence against the defendant for failing to stop at a stop sign and crashing into his car. The plaintiffs sought compensation for past and future suffering, loss of earnings, diminished earning capacity, permanent injuries, and loss of consortium and loss of services. 

The “Impact Rule”

At trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded them $14,550,000. This award included $7 million for pain and suffering and $4 million for future pain and suffering. After reducing the award by the percentage that the plaintiff was at fault (25%), the defendant was awarded $10,912,500 and still appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by not instructing the jury on the “impact rule.”

The impact rule provides that a plaintiff is allowed to recover for emotional distress if there is an impact resulting in physical injury to the plaintiff. The state’s impact rule consists of three elements:

  1. The plaintiff suffered some type of physical impact;
  2. The physical impact caused the physical injury to the plaintiff; and 
  3. The physical injury is responsible for causing the plaintiff’s emotional distress/mental suffering. 

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Although well-intended, the impact rule is inapplicable to all claims of negligence – only to negligent infliction of emotional distress. Since the plaintiffs’ complaint did not mention any claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, the trial court was not required to give the jury instructions on the impact rule. The last thing that the plaintiffs have to prove is that the defendant’s conduct was the proximate cause of their injuries. This was proven and therefore the court held that the trial court’s verdict should remain. 

Attorney Randall F. Rogers of Randall F. Rogers, PC Personal Injury Law Helps Those in GA Who Have Suffered Emotional Distress

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and suffered an emotional injury due to the negligence of another, it can make every day challenging. That is why it is so important to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced Georgia personal injury attorney. You may be able to recover in full or in part for your injuries. Whether damages for lost wages, past and future medical expenses or pain and suffering, attorney, Randall Rogers, will fight to get you the compensation that you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call Randall F. Rogers, PC today!

Posted in: Personal Injury