Workplace injuries are unfortunately common, especially in dangerous industries like construction, manufacturing, and packing/delivery work. However, there are times when workplace injuries go beyond a simple laceration or broken bone. Emotional distress is the natural result of some serious injuries, and depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your mental trauma.
Not sure what your options are after a workplace injury? We’re here to help. Call Reeves & Mestayer at 228-374-5151.
The Difference Between Workers’ Comp Claims and Personal Injury Claims
To start, it’s important to know whether you are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim. Workers’ compensation is the most common route for injured employees, and it’s your only option if your injury was caused by your employer, a coworker, or someone else directly employed by your company.
Workers’ compensation law bars you from filing a personal injury claim against your employer or a coworker, even if their negligence or malice led to your injuries. Under a workers’ compensation claim, your options for payment are fairly limited. You get your medical expenses covered and receive partial wage replacement for the time you are unable to work. However, you cannot seek compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other types of losses.
You may be able to receive compensation for emotional distress if you are pursuing a personal injury claim. A personal injury claim allows you to seek compensation from a third party who is responsible for your workplace injury. For example, if a subcontractor on your work site caused your injuries, you may file a claim against them. If you were hit by another driver while driving for work, you may have a claim against that party. When you go this route, you do have the option of seeking compensation for emotional distress.
How Emotional Distress Affects an Injury Claim
As is the case with every aspect of a personal injury claim, you will need to prove that you’ve suffered emotional distress in order to have any chance at collecting damages. The term “emotional distress” is intentionally broad, allowing it to apply to a wide range of negative emotions and psychological side effects that come with an accident. Commonly reported feelings include anger, embarrassment, hopelessness, shame, despair, anxiety, helplessness, and disappointment.
Two Types of Emotional Distress Claims Under Mississippi Law
Many people believe that emotional distress is covered under the umbrella of “pain and suffering” in a personal injury claim. However, it is actually a distinct category all its own. While pain and suffering comes about as a result of your physical injury, emotional distress is considered its own separate type of injury.
For example, consider a workplace accident where you were at risk of dying because of a piece of malfunctioning equipment that almost crushed you. Your coworker was able to stop the equipment before it had any physical contact with you, so you have no physical injury. However, the fear that you were about to die is considered its own injury. This type of near-miss situation can cause PTSD, anxiety, depression, and a massive loss of quality of life.
Emotional distress may be one category of your personal injury claim. This is typically the way to go if you also have physical damages or if the emotional distress was not inflicted intentionally or with malice. The second option under Mississippi law is a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, often shortened to IIED.
The burden of proof is much higher in an IIED claim, as you must prove that the defendant’s conduct was wanton and willful and that it evoked outrage or revulsion. Proving that someone intentionally caused you harm is significantly harder than proving that they caused you harm. If you believe this is relevant for your situation, it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible to explore your options.
Explore Your Options with Reeves & Mestayer
If you’ve suffered emotional distress because of someone else’s negligence or malice, you could be entitled to compensation. Your next step is to talk to an attorney. Set up a consultation with Reeves & Mestayer now by calling us at 228-374-5151 or contacting us online.