Main screening factors that a plaintiff’s attorney uses when evaluating mental and emotional injury claims in accident cases

Many mental injury claims are multiple-trauma cases, such as sexual abuse, discrimination and harassment. But many other mental injury claims are single-trauma cases, such as construction injuries, medical negligence, product liability and other “accident” cases. For even the best plaintiff’s lawyer, presenting a mental and emotional injury claim in an accident case is often an uphill battle.

When determining whether to accept an accident case in which the potential plaintiff is suffering from a significant mental and emotional injury, the plaintiff’s attorney will consider numerous factors including:

  • The clarity of liability. There should be no ambiguity about the defendant’s responsibility for the accident.
  • The type of event (exploding battery; construction site accident; cancer misdiagnosis) that forms the basis for the accident case.
  • Whether the plaintiff has also sustained a physical injury.
  • Whether the subject trauma was objectively significant.
  • Whether the subject trauma was significant enough to overcome plaintiff’s coping mechanisms.
  • The nature of defendant.
  • The provability of the mental and emotional injury.
  • The extent of the mental and emotional injury.
  • The vulnerability of the plaintiff.
  • The clarity of causation. There should be no question that the defendant’s actions or omissions contributed to the accident that injured the plaintiff.
  • The extent of insurance coverage.
  • The credibility of the plaintiff.
  • Whether the plaintiff has received treatment for the mental and emotional injury.
  • The extent to which the mental and emotional injury has interfered with plaintiff’s ability to work and otherwise function.