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Suing for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in Florida

A person who sustains serious injuries in a car accident or injuries caused by another party could be entitled to compensation for their damages. Damages may include financial losses, physical injuries, and non-economic damages. Non-economic damages cover the pain and suffering experienced, such as emotional distress.

If you do not sustain physical injuries, it could be more difficult to recover compensation for emotional distress. Florida’s impact rule requires that you suffer physical harm to recover compensation for emotional distress. However, some exceptions to the impact rule allow compensation for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

What is the Impact Rule in Florida?

Florida is one of the few states that still use the impact rule for personal injury claims. The rule is based on common law and upheld by cases decided by the Florida Supreme Court. According to the impact rule, a person cannot be compensated for emotional distress unless there is a physical “impact” or injury. 

In other words, if you sustain a broken bone because of a slip and fall accident, you could claim economic damages, including lost wages and medical bills. However, because you broke your leg, you could also claim damages for your non-economic losses, including physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress.

Many people argue that the impact rule is unfair and prevents victims of negligent acts from receiving fair compensation for their damages. However, the Florida Supreme Court upholds the impact rule for damages it refers to as “spiritually intangible.”

However, Florida courts have carved out exceptions to the impact rule. Under those exceptions, a person could recover compensation for emotional distress even though they did not sustain a physical injury because of the accident or incident.

Exceptions to the Impact Rule for Florida Personal Injury Cases

If there is any physical “impact” to the victim, the victim should be able to recover compensation for emotional distress. However, there are other cases in which the courts have allowed compensation for negligent infliction of emotional distress without a physical injury or impact. 

Exceptions to the impact rule in Florida include:

  • Developing physical symptoms after witnessing a family member’s catastrophic injury or violent death
  • Wrongful or negligent birth injuries and stillbirths
  • Disclosing an HIV test result in violation of Florida Statute §381.004 
  • Consuming contaminated foods
  • A psychotherapist’s breach of patient confidentiality
  • Victims of intentional torts

Determining whether your case is an exception to the impact rule for negligent infliction of emotional distress is complicated. These personal injury cases are fact-specific and require a thorough understanding of legal precedent in Florida. 

The best way to know whether you have a personal injury case for negligent infliction of emotional distress is to speak with a personal injury attorney in Jacksonville.

What is Considered Emotional Distress for a Personal Injury Case in Florida?

Emotional distress is a non-economic damage. A person may experience a wide range of emotional trauma because of an accident or injury. They may experience many psychological and physical symptoms of emotional distress due to an accident or injury.

A person may experience emotional distress as:

  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Fear and/or anxiety
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Embarrassment 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • An overall decrease in quality of life
  • Frustration and/or anger

Emotional distress is unique to each person. People do not have the same reaction to an injury or accident. The overall facts and circumstances of the case and the person’s situation can impact how severely someone might experience emotional distress after an accident or injury. 

Calculating the Value of a Claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

It is difficult to place a value on emotional distress. There is no specific formula or statutory guideline for calculating pain and suffering damages.

A doctor might diagnose physical conditions caused by emotional distress, but not always. Most cases involve self-reported symptoms of emotional distress, making it more difficult to calculate the value of the claim. 

The multiplier method is a common way to value non-economic damages in a personal injury case. The value of non-economic damages is a multiple of the economic damages. The multiplier used (generally a number between 1.5 and five) is based on the facts of the case.

The best way to know if you have a case and how much the injury case is worth is to talk with an attorney.

Contact the Jacksonville Personal Injury Law Firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help

For more information, please contact the Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra personal injury law firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We serve in Duval County, St, Johns County, and its surrounding areas:

Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Jacksonville
9471 Baymeadows Rd #105,
Jacksonville, FL 32256, United States
(904) 396-1100

Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Downtown Jacksonville
121 W. Forsyth St. #170
Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 822-4225

Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Ponte Vedra
480 Town Plaza Ave #130,
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32081
(904) 675-1167

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