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Understanding Florida’s Impact Rule


You may already be aware that if you are in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, that you can recover for emotional damages, as well as your physical damages. So, for example, if you have constant and chronic pain, and that pain causes you sadness or anxiety or depression, those emotional or mental ailments certainly are considered damages in your personal injury case.

But what if you only have emotional or mental damages? In other words, what if you are in an accident, and physically, you are just fine. However, the accident causes you nightmares, inability to concentrate, anxiety, or loss of enjoyment of your life?

Can you still recover damages even though you have emotional damages, but no actual physical injury?

The Impact Rule

Florida limits the ability of victims to recover damages for emotional or mental injuries. In order to get these damages, you must also have some physical “touching” from the accident. That doesn’t mean you must have a serious physical injury—but you must have had some physical impact from the accident or wrongdoing.

For example, imagine you bite into a sandwich at a restaurant and you find a bug inside of it that you bit into. Although admittedly gross, this is unlikely to cause you physical injury.

However, it still could be considered a physical impact on your body, and thus if you had emotional damages or trauma as a result of what happened, you would legally be entitled to recover damages for your emotional or mental suffering.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are some exceptions to the impact rule—that is, times when you can get emotional damages, even without having any physical impact on your baby in the accident.

If you see or witness a family member or loved one get injured, and you suffer emotional or mental trauma, you could recover for those damages, even though you weren’t in the accident, and sustained no physical impact on your body at all.

In some cases, things that would shock the conscience, may allow a victim to get only emotional damages. Wrongdoing with, or mishandling of, dead bodies often qualifies—for example, burying someone in the wrong burial plot, or cremating someone who was supposed to be buried, or losing someone’s body or remains, may allow recovery of emotional damages.

Exposure to HIV, or wrongful diagnosis of HIV, may also qualify for emotional damages. Any intentional wrong will also allow you to recover.

Limited Application

Once again—you can recover emotional damages in any kind of case, with any kind of injury. The impact rule only limits your ability to recover damages in cases where you have no physical touching or injury to go along with your emotional or mental trauma.

We can help you understand every measure of damages that you can legally receive. Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help.




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