Visitor Question

Loss of time with family prior to death?

Submitted By: A (USA)

My Daughter(16) was in an accident on her way to see her Grandma in the hospital. She was hit by an ATT vehicle that sandwiched her into the car in front of her. It was ATT’s vault per the Police report. We had to settle on property first. We did not want to take their offer but had to. This has been going on since 11/29/2013.

My Daughter was not able to visit her Grandma in the hospital as often or on her own due to the fact I was taking care of my Dad while Grandma was in the hospital.

Her Grandma went into the hospital the week before Thanksgiving. My daughter’s wreck was on the day after Thanksgiving. Not knowing Grandma was going to die in January, she kept saying all those months that she wanted to go do Grandma’s hair or nails, just to spend time with her, not knowing she was going to pass away.

Can we try get any Emotional Distress onto the pain and suffering on this case? All we were asking for was under $10,000.00 to settle everything. Does this loss of time spent with family in the last days of life count as damages in the settlement? How do we justify it? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear A,

In most cases, emotional distress falls under the category of pain and suffering. Unless your daughter sustained a physical injury, convincing the insurance company to pay for her emotional distress resulting from extreme sadness, disappointment, and depression, will be difficult.

Emotional distress (pain and suffering) is directly connected to a victim’s physical injury resulting from a collision, fall, burn, etc. While in some cases, sadness, depression, etc. may be included as part of pain and suffering, that compensation will have to be very closely connected with the physical injury.

Presuming your daughter was not injured in the collision, there is nothing wrong with asking the insurance company to pay for her emotional distress.

Unfortunately, in the absence of physical injury, the insurance company will likely respond by asking you to produce psychological or psychiatric proof of her emotional distress. That proof will have to unequivocally link your daughter’s extreme sadness, disappointment, etc. to the collision with the ATT vehicle.

If your daughter sustained minor “soft tissue” injuries, such as sprains, minor bumps and bruises, then a fair settlement, inclusive of her pain and suffering should be about two 2-3 times the amount of her medical bills. You will likely be able to settle her soft tissue claim without an attorney.

Alternatively, if your daughter sustained serious injuries, such as fractures, torn ligaments, scarring, etc., you will need an attorney. Serious injury claims are much more complex, often involving the filing of a lawsuit, pretrial discovery, court hearings, etc. In serious “hard injury” cases, an attorney can almost always secure a higher net settlement than a victim might on his or her own.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: February 15, 2014

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