Peter Thompson
Peter Thompson

Proving Psychological Harm from Accidents

Motor vehicle crashes and other types of accidents can be traumatic experiences, which produce not only physical injuries, but psychological ones as well. Serious psychological and emotional injuries can also occur when there is no physical injury, such as after witnessing a serious accident or surviving a traumatic experience. Often, psychological injuries that result from accidents are not as readily diagnosed as physical ones, but may have a far more devastating impact than physical injuries and persist long after the physical injuries have healed.

Here at Peter Thompson & Associates, we ensure that our clients receive the compensation they deserve for all of their injuries, both psychological and physical. At our firm we want our clients to focus on treatment and recovery for both their emotional and physical injuries. Our Attorneys and staff are experienced in helping clients who have been traumatized by accidents and understand how to both assist our clients in receiving the treatment they need for psychological injuries and also assuring that insurance companies compensate our clients for those damages.

Proving psychological injuries to an insurance company or in court can be challenging; fortunately we are experienced in using a wide range of techniques to successfully demonstrate the extent of these types of damages. In addition to using the medical records and testimony of treating physicians and therapists, testimony from our clients about how their life and mental state has changed since the accident can prove invaluable. We also often employ the testimony of our client’s friends and family, who can speak first-hand of the debilitating effects of our client’s psychological injuries in their everyday lives. Furthermore, we often encourage clients to keep daily journals recounting their experiences, mental impressions, and emotional turmoil after an accident, as this allows a trier of fact to truly understand our client’s pain and suffering as they are experiencing it. This process also hopefully provides our clients an outlet for their pain. Additionally, so-called “day-in-the-life” videos can help to visually illustrate the changes from and consequences of psychological injuries. Evidence of changes to work performance, school performance, or peer interactions are also often helpful to prove the consequences of psychological injuries to our clients.

Maine case law has developed to hold negligent parties accountable for the psychological harm they cause, even if the injured party had a history of mental health issues or was in a particularly fragile mental state at the time of the accident. Although Maine law regarding preexisting mental or emotional conditions is still evolving, in a series of cases, including Lovely v. Allstate and

Theriault v. Swan , the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has established guidelines to allow plaintiffs to recover the full extent of their psychological injuries. In Lovely , the Law Court adopted the single injury rule, where if a negligent party aggravates a pre-existing condition, that party is liable for the entire extent of the plaintiff’s damages, so long as that negligent party cannot prove a clear distinction between the specific injuries caused by the accident and those that were not. As discussed in Theriault , a similar line of reasoning is applied where the preexisting injury is emotional or psychological in nature. If the plaintiff can show that some psychological harm alleged could have reasonably been expected to befall an ordinarily sensitive person, who experienced a similar accident or injuries, then the injured plaintiff is entitled to recover for the full extent of their psychological injuries, regardless of whether those injures were more severe than those that may have been sustained by another person in a similar situation.

Recovering from and being compensated for psychological injuries is a difficult and complicated process; make sure that you have a law firm like Peter Thompson & Associates, which is committed to and experienced in dealing with these types of injuries