FREE CONSULTATION916.921.6400

How To Prove Psychological Harm without a Physical Injury

Psychological Harm without a Physical Injury: How to Prove the Psychological Injury in Order to Maximize General Damages

In any personal injury lawsuit, claiming emotional harm can be  tricky as more often than not, personal injury actions involve physical injuries.  In many cases, both psychological/emotional harm and physical harm are present, as a physical injury may also have led to psychological and emotional harm.  However, if a personal injury action alleges only psychological harm and no physical injury, the injured person may have a difficult time proving his or her case.  As such, it is crucial that an injured individual has a qualified and experienced attorney who understands just how debilitating psychological harm can be, even if no physical injury exists.

Like any physical injury, a plaintiff must prove his or her case with support by expert testimony, the testimony of family members, medical records, and other evidence that documents the nature and extent of a plaintiff’s psychological harm.  It may be difficult to convince a jury that psychological harm has caused, and will continue to cause feelings of fright, nervousness, anxiety, shock, apprehension, or terror, among others.  (Capeluto v. Kaiser Found. Hosps. (1972) 7 Cal.3d 889, 892-93.)

However, a plaintiff may present evidence that does document the serious nature of a plaintiff’s emotional injuries.  An expert’s role in this area is imperative to prove to a jury that the psychological harm is real.  A plaintiff’s testimony or that of a family member may not be strong enough by itself to convince some jurors.

What Role Does an Expert Play in Psychological Harm Cases?

The goal in any personal injury case is to maximize the plaintiff’s recovery as much as possible.  If a case does not settle, and the plaintiff takes his or her to trial, an expert’s testimony could make or break the case.  The expert is the person who essentially links a plaintiff’s psychological injuries to the conduct of the defendant.  This link must exist for a plaintiff to prove under the law that his or her psychological harm was directly caused by the defendant’s actions.  A good expert will have the necessary credentials, experience, and presentation to effectively communicate to the jury.  An expert should keep things simple to avoid jury confusion or  boredom.  The more engaged a jury is, the more likely the message is getting across to them, and the more likely the jury will truly understand the extent of the plaintiff’s psychological harm.

Other Important Evidence to Document Psychological Harm

The expert’s testimony may be valuable, but so too is other evidence that will support the expert’s testimony.  For example, if an expert expresses the opinion that the plaintiff is suffering from extreme fear due to an  injury, a family member’s testimony describing such fear can provide a jury with an overall picture of what has happened to the plaintiff.  While expert testimony is critical, jurors also like to hear testimony from lay witnesses who they may relate to more than the expert.  Additionally, medical records and testimony of treating doctors also help to provide the jury with what they need to award a plaintiff the maximum recovery possible.

Stockton Auto Accident Attorney

I’m Ed Smith a Stockton Auto Accident Attorney. If you or a family member has been seriously hurt in any accident, please call me today at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

Our Stockton address is:

Law Offices of Edward A. Smith
235 N. San Joaquin St
Stockton, CA 95202

Read our firm’s  reviews on Yelp, Avvo, and Google Plus.

Meet our  friendly staff.

I’m a California Million Dollar Advocate Forum Member.  Trial lawyers in this forum have multiple  verdicts and settlements over a million dollars.

Past Verdicts and Settlements.

I’ve been practicing personal injury law exclusively since 1982.

Posted In:
Updated:

Client Reviews

  • Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!
    Sincerely,
    ★★★★★
  • Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation.
    ★★★★★
  • Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything.
    ★★★★★
  • Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime.
    ★★★★★
  • I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone.
    ★★★★★
  • Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury.
    ★★★★★