You can sue for emotional distress from a car accident if you sustained physical injuries. We will have to prove all five of these factors for you to be able to go after compensation for emotional distress:

Legal Duty of Care

To sue for emotional distress from a car accident, the person we sue on your behalf must have owed you a legal duty of care at the time of the accident. This element is not difficult to establish because all drivers have a duty to operate their motor vehicles safely and obey the traffic laws.

For purposes of walking through the five factors for liability and emotional distress, let’s assume that the plaintiff was a passenger in a car. The defendant was the driver of the car in which the plaintiff was an occupant.

Breach of the Duty

When someone’s conduct fails to live up to the standards of a legal duty of care, it is negligence. For example, the defendant was texting while driving. Texting while operating a motor vehicle can violate traffic laws. Even in the states that have not made distracted driving illegal, a driver who does so is still negligent for failing to remain aware and drive safely.


The negligence has to be the thing that causes the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries. It will satisfy the causation element of liability if the driver crashed into another car because of his distraction and failure to give his full attention to the road.

Quantifiable Injuries

You must have measurable harm as a result of the negligence. A “close call” is not sufficient to impose liability on someone.

Imagine that the texting driver looked up at the road ahead just in time to see that he was about to crash into the back of a stopped tractor-trailer. He swerved sharply onto the shoulder of the road and narrowly missed what might have been a fatal accident.

If no one sustained physical injuries, the driver is not liable, even though he gave them a terrible fright. If the passenger was hurt, the negligent driver can be responsible for the losses.

Emotional Distress

Finally, to sue for emotional distress from a car accident, we will have to be able to show the judge that you indeed suffered emotionally and mentally, in addition to your physical injuries. Emotional distress is one of several types of noneconomic damages one might have from a car accident.

For example, if you cannot ride in a car anymore without having a panic attack because of the crash, you might have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Quite a few people who experience significant collisions end up with PTSD.

Another form of emotional distress is the psychological pain of disfigurement. If you sustained noticeable large scars or lost a body part or the use of a body part, you might suffer emotional distress as a result.

If you want caring, compassionate lawyers who will fight tirelessly to get you all the money you deserve, you should talk with the car accident team at the Montero Law Center. Call us today at (954) 767-6500 for a free consultation.