Getting a Money Recovery for Your Psychological Injuries (Part III)–When to Prove Them at Trial


In the last part we discussed a situation where the client should not have claimed psychological injuries. 

However, there are cases where psychological injuries are the focal point.

Here is one:

Helen Kim, a young Korean woman in her mid-twenties, was injured in a yellow taxi cab accident.

She was going home late at night from the office.  In Brooklyn her driver fell asleep at the wheel and collided with a stopped fire engine.

Ms. Kim treated for injuries to her neck, right shoulder, and low back.   Her bodily injuries included a cervical herniated disc and torn rotator cuff, and she underwent extensive physical therapy and tests for these injuries.  However, her psychological injuries proved to be the most significant.  She sustained post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Here are some of the symptoms of her post-traumatic stress syndrome:

  • Reliving the Incident.  She had regular flashbacks where she relived the accident.  She recalled vividly the sight of  her driver fall asleep at the wheel and veer into the fire truck.  
  • Nightmares.   She had frequent nightmares reliving the incident. 
  • Inability to Focus at Work.  Prior to the incident she was “Ms. Career Girl” at her advertising agency, one of the world’s largest.  She never refused an assignment and worked long and hard hours to get the job done.  She was “going places.”  Now, she could no longer focus on her work.  Her mind often strayed while thinking about the accident, her pain, and her sadness.  She could no longer put-in long hours.  She could no longer volunteer for tough projects.  She felt that the agency was keeping her only out of pity.
  • Crying Jags and Depression.  She had frequent crying episodes when thinking about her injuries and changed circumstances.  She did not see a bright future.  She did not foresee marriage and children even though she had a boyfriend who she followed to London.  She felt that he would drop her.  She only saw sadness.  She saw herself as a broken person.  She had no hope.
  • Need for Psychotherapy and Medication.  She treated with both a psychologist and psychiatrist.  She was prescribed various medications.

It is interesting to note that she missed only a couple of days from work.   She struggled to work through her bodily and emotional pain. 

Furthermore, she moved to London to follow her boyfriend and to work at a much smaller and less pressurized advertising firm.  She continued her psychotherapy with her New York psychologist by phone sessions.

Ms. Kim is a very composed, well-dressed, and attractive lady.  She did not appear to be injured.  However, she became a sobbing  mess on the witness stand.   She had to be helped from the witness stand.  Her tears were genuine.  Her psychologist testified.  The cab company did not present a psychologist since it did not take the psychological injury seriously.

The jury found a substantial verdict in Ms. Kim’s favor.  The jury discounted the cervical herniated disc, but it accepted the torn rotator cuff and psychological injury.

In this case, the totality of the facts supported proof of a psychological injury.

If you have been injured in an accident, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to letters@seitelman.com.

Mark E. Seitelman, 4/13/10, www.seitelman.com.

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