Victims can Recover Damages for Pre-Impact Fear

In many cases, damages that a personal injury victim can recover include those items that do not have a dollar figure attached to them. These are damages that recognize that human suffering is compensable, even though there is no bill attached to it. 

Non-Economic Damages

You may already know that traditional non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, anger and anxiety, or mental anguish. They can even include the loss of or damage to personal relationships, such as the changes that a spousal relationship might undergo when one spouse suffers a serious disability due to an accident.

Non-economic damages are usually compensable to a victim’s estate even if the victim dies in the accident, although some of the items, like loss of the enjoyment of life, may not be awardable.

Pre-Impact Fright

In most cases, there is a category of non economic damages known as pre-impact fright. As the name implies, this is the fear that happens in the seconds before an accident, when a victim knows that an accident or an injury is imminent.

These damages compensate victims for the moments that they brace for impact, or close their eyes, as time seems to stand still while the victim waits for imminent impact or panics trying to escape the danger. 

Proving the Damages

Proving these damages can be difficult because it requires demonstration that the victim did, in fact, realize and appreciate that impact or injury was imminent. If a piano fell from the sky on your head, you may have serious injury, but not pre-impact fear, never having seen it coming. On the other hand, if you hear the screeching tires of an oncoming truck behind you and see it getting closer in the rear view mirror, you may be able to prove pre-impact fear.

Where the accident leads to death, proof can be harder because the victim is not there to testify. However, proof of screeching brakes, or the time that it took for an accident to occur, or testimony from a witness about the victim saying something immediately before impact, or some other sign that the victim knew an accident was imminent, would suffice.

In some cases, courts have even allowed damages to be recovered for pre-impact fright even in the absence of any testimony, if common sense would dictate that the victim experienced fright based on the circumstances of the accident.

Practical Issues

Practically, proving these damages can cause great heartache for families, especially where the victim has died. You are essentially arguing over how horrible the victim suffered, when most family members (and their lawyers) would prefer that the deceased passed quickly and peacefully.

Recreating the seconds before death can be heart-wrenching and painful. Families should think about whether to pursue these special kinds of damages, before pursuing them.

The law allows you to be compensated for many different kinds of economic and noneconomic damages. Do not lose the opportunity to tell a jury how an accident has affected you or your family. Contact the attorneys of Brassel Alexander, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your accident.