As a Texarkana personal injury attorney, I have to deal with some unfortunate laws. While many states allow a plaintiff to recover for mental anguish and emotional distress after an automobile accident, in Texarkana, plaintiffs have less rights.
For an accident victim, the mental anguish associated with a wreck can be triggered by any number of events:
- Seeing your brand new car totaled
- Dealing with the stress of having to take medical leave from work for recovery time
- Going back and forth to doctor visits
- Worry and anxiety of wondering when you will heal from your injuries and feel like yourself again
In Arkansas, a plaintiff can recover for mental anguish arising out of his or her bodily injury claim.
However, a plaintiff cannot recover for mental anguish resulting from damage to property.
So if you find yourself walking out of the grocery store to your 1967 Chevy convertible that was passed down to you by your grandfather and newly remodeled, and suddenly watch it smashed by the produce delivery truck, you only get to collect the fair market value of the car – you can’t collect extra damages for mental anguish, no matter how attached you may feel to your “baby.”
(Note: the same rule applies to pets, which are considered “property”–not family–although some would disagree).
Arkansas also does not allow for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
This is a cause of action adopted by some states – in Louisiana it is commonly referred to as “Lejeune” damages. It arises when a plaintiff is not physically injured, but observes a close relative being injured.
For example, some states allow for damages to a mother who observes a vehicle injure her infant child and suffers extreme emotional distress in seeing her baby hurt.
In Arkansas, Mom doesn’t have a cause of action for this stress.
The rule changes, though, upon death of the injured person.
Arkansas allows for those beneficiaries which are specifically designated in the Arkansas wrongful death statute to recover for their mental anguish incurred upon the death of a relative.
The rules also change if the infliction of emotional distress is intentional, rather than negligent, or accidental.
If a plaintiff can prove that the defendant’s behavior was intentional, wanton, or recklessly disregards the plaintiff’s rights, a plaintiff can recover for resulting emotional distress. So in the case of the infant, if a defendant pulls a prank and runs his car over a toy baby doll in front of Mom and causes her to believe her baby has just been seriously hurt, she can sue to recover the resulting mental anguish.