Sometimes when you suffer an accident or are injured by another person's intentional or negligent behavior, the injury goes beyond the physical. It is incredibly common for those who have suffered an injury to also find that they are left with emotional or psychological scarring. Did you know that a personal injury lawyer in Knoxville may be able to help you claim compensation for that psychological trauma and any physical damage? Let's look more in-depth at psychological injuries and how a personal injury lawyer in Knoxville might approach your case.

What is a Psychological Response?

In simple terms, when we talk about a psychological response, we are referring to the natural reaction that your body has when subjected to some type of external stimuli. This is not always a negative reaction; there are many positive psychological responses. Some of these might include the following:

  • Eating your favorite food
  • Seeing an old friend you haven't contacted in a long time
  • Spending time participating in an enjoyable activity
  • Working out at the gym

However, just as someone can have positive reactions to certain stimuli, there can also be negative ones. Those are the psychological responses that a personal injury lawyer in Knoxville will be the most interested in. These can be unhealthy reactions triggered by undesirable events such as a traffic accident, witnessing someone being injured or killed, or worsening an injury or illness due to improper medical care. Some of the most common symptoms that might suggest you are suffering from psychological suffering in the wake of an accident or injury can include the following:

  • Anger, Irritability & Mood Swings
  • Obsessive Behaviors
  • Loss of Interest in Previously Enjoyable Activities
  • Forgetfulness or Brain Fog
  • Alcohol addiction or Substance abuse
  • Emotional Numbing
  • Withdrawal From Other People

Psychological injuries may require treatment in much the same way that a physical injury does. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms following an accident or injury, it is important to seek medical attention. Aside from the fact that you need treatment in order to get healthy again, you will also want to have the psychological injury documented for your personal injury lawyer in Knoxville to provide them with the evidence needed to pursue compensation.

Damages for Emotional Distress & Psychological Injuries

Your personal injury lawyer in Knoxville can pursue damages for emotional distress and psychological injuries. This is often paid as part of the pain and suffering portion of your non-economical damages and is intended to help compensate for the impact of psychological distress on your life. One of the significant issues is that this type of distress is very subjective, and it will vary from one person to the next. That is why it is so important for you and your personal injury lawyer in Knoxville to document emotional distress carefully. In addition to having your doctor document psychological symptoms, you may also find it helpful to keep a daily diary noting how you are feeling each day and how your injuries, both physical and psychological, are impacting your everyday life.

It is on the injured party and their personal injury lawyer in Knoxville to prove liability for their injuries. In short, you must be able to prove that your quality of life has been negatively impacted as a result of your injuries. In order to prove this liability, you must be able to show that:

  1. You were owed a duty of care from the at-fault party. Examples include a doctor having a duty of care to provide the correct treatment or a driver having a duty of care to follow the rules of the road and operate the vehicle safely and legally.
  2. The defendant must have breached the duty of care either intentionally or by neglecting to follow the appropriate procedures. For example, if you have been hit by a driver who was speeding, under the influence of alcohol, or distracted from driving, they have breached their duty of care to operate their vehicle safely.
  3. There must be evidence that it was the breach of duty of care that caused the accident and led to your physical and psychological injuries.

Calculating Pain & Suffering Damages

As a general rule of thumb, when calculating the settlement to be paid, one of the most common methods is to add up all of the economic damages, which include medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and future expenses. This figure is then multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on how severe the injured party's pain and suffering are deemed to be. The more severe the emotional distress, the closer to 5 the multiplier will be. This multiplier will likely be a bone of contention between the defendant's legal team and your personal injury lawyer in Knoxville. Arguing your case will circle back around to how well-documented your injuries and psychological distress are. In the state of Tennessee, the maximum damages for pain and suffering are capped at $750,000. This can be paid in addition to the full amount of the economic damages. Where there is severe or permanent injury, an additional $250,000 in non-economic damages may be awarded.

If you have suffered psychological damages following an accident or injury, contact a personal injury lawyer in Knoxville today to discuss a potential lawsuit.


Butler, Vines and Babb is a leading law firm in Knoxville, TN, with extensive litigation experience in Medical Malpractice LawBirth Injury LawTrucking Accident LawPersonal Injury Law, and Business Law. Contact us today at or call 865-637-3531.

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