Psychological injuries FAQS

Q. Are psychological injury cases treated the same as physical injury cases under the law?

A. For the most part, psychological injuries and physical injuries are treated the same under Louisiana law.

Q. What is the difference between a traumatic brain injury case and a psychological injury case?

A. A traumatic brain injury involves an actual physical injury to the "brain" in which the tissues of the brain are damaged (though damage may not show up on radiographic or other testing). A psychological injury involves an injury to a person's "mind" in which there is usually no damage to the "brain." Although different implications for treatment and recovery exist, traumatic brain injuries and psychological injuries do have some similarities. Those who suffer traumatic brain injuries often experience emotional distress, and those who suffer a psychological injury may have symptoms that mimic traumatic brain injury symptoms such as headaches, slowed thinking, and difficultly concentrating.

Q. Can I have both a traumatic injury and a psychological injury?

Yes. Someone can suffer a traumatic brain injury and also suffer a psychological injury such as depression, anxiety disorder or even a psychosis.

Q. What is a post-traumatic stress disorder?

A. A post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a specific type of psychiatric disorder that results from exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience or witnessing an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury or threat to one's physical integrity. To be diagnosed with PTSD, a person's response to the event must involve intense fear, helplessness or horror; a persistent reexperiencing of the event; a persistent avoidance of the stimuli associated with the trauma, and persistent symptoms of increased arousal such as difficultly falling or staying asleep and difficulty concentrating.

Q. Is post-traumatic stress disorder the only psychological injury that I could suffer as a result of a trauma?

A. No. Trauma causes several different types of mental disorders ranging from adjustment disorders, depression, anxiety, all the way to psychosis. Trauma can also aggravate an already existing mental disorder or long standing personality disorder. Oftentimes in lawsuits, psychotherapists mistakenly diagnose PTSD where the patient has experienced a traumatic event. However, this does a disservice to the patient in the legal case if the patient does not meet the strict requirements for a post-traumatic stress disorder, some of which are listed above.

Q. Are psychological injury cases difficult to prove?

A. Yes, in many cases psychological injuries are hard to prove. Often, jurors and judges are doubtful of the existence of the psychological injury at all. However, this distrust can be overcome by plaintiff's attorney and experts presenting evidence of a reasonable connection between the trauma and the plaintiff's psychological injury.

Generally, the more severe the trauma the easier it is to show a connection to a plaintiff's psychological injury.

Q. How can I prove my psychological injury case?

A. You can prove your psychological injury case with the testimony of well-credentialed experts along with objective witnesses who can describe how you've changed from before and after the trauma. Psychological testing can also help prove psychological injury cases.

Q. Are psychological injury cases easy to settle?

A. No. Judges, jurors and insurance adjusters are often distrustful of psychological injury claims. As a result, most attorneys who specialize in psychological injury cases do not even attempt to settle them until the insurance company has hired an attorney who is able to conduct the necessary discovery to recognize that plaintiff has a valid psychological injury claim.

Q. What damages can I collect in a psychological injury case?

A. You are entitled to recover damages for past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, past and future pain and suffering.

Q. Do I need to hire an attorney and if I do does that attorney need to specialize in psychological injury cases?

A. Because of the skepticism surrounding psychological injuries, in is highly unlikely that a plaintiff will be able to receive full compensation for a purely psychological injury without hiring an attorney. It's important to hire an attorney who understands the effects of psychological distress and can effectively advocate on your behalf in front of insurance adjusters, defense attorneys, judges and jurors.

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