States have different laws about pursuing psychological injury (emotional injury or mental stress) as damages in personal injury cases. When evaluating your case, your personal injury lawyer can explain the prospects for recovering damages as they relate to your specific circumstances.
A Florida Bar Journal article describes how the law for recovering psychological damages has changed. Initially, Florida courts strictly operated off the "the impact rule," which did not allow compensation for negligently inflicted mental stress unless it was related to a person's physical injury. However, the Florida Supreme Court continues to find certain exceptions.
Here are various cases where rulings involved the impact rule:
- A car crashing into a woman's house caused her such emotional distress that she had a heart attack (rejected because no physical impact to her had occurred) (Stewart v. Gilliam, 1972)
- Husband sued when a drunk driver killed his daughter and his wife while watching her die became so emotionally overwhelmed that she also died at the scene (court found such significant harm that no direct physical contact was necessary to recover damages) (Champion v. Gray, 1985)
- A Dade County Holiday Inn hotel security guard instructed a guest to park across the street and while assuring her it was safe, refused to accompany her or watch her. She was assaulted by a man who held a gun to her head, made her lift her clothing while he touched her exposed body and stole her rental car. Hotel employees were indifferent to her. Through an emergency room, she received treatment for anxiety, depression, panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder and was prescribed medications. (The court did not bar recovery because impact (although slight) had occurred ─ in this case touching). (Willis v. Gami Golden Glades, LLC, 2007)
Cases involving mental stress are often complex from a legal perspective. If you suffer psychological injury through someone else's intentional act or negligence, discuss your damages with an experienced Bradenton injury attorney.