An assault, armed robbery or similar violent offense can cause many negative consequences for the victim. There may be medical costs if someone needs treatment afterward, as well as the cost to repair or replace property damaged or stolen during the crime.
In addition to these more obvious consequences, those victimized by others with criminal intentions often find later that they have psychological trauma from the incident. They may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that limits their ability to go out in public or hold a job. They may have anxiety, depression or other mental health responses to a situation outside of their control.
Is psychological trauma something that can influence your legal rights as the victim of a crime?
Washington state laws recognize mental anguish and suffering
Those injured by someone else, including during the commission of a crime, can often take legal action against the person who harmed them. Personal injury laws let people claim any provable financial losses they suffered because of a criminal incident. Washington law also allows the victims of crimes to seek compensation for non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages are losses that don’t have a direct financial value associated with them the way that lost wages or medical bills do. Included in the state statute as permissible non-economic damages are mental anguish, pain, suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, injury to reputation and even humiliation.
Although intangible injuries can be harder to prove conclusively, testimony from you and/or a mental health professional may be enough to convince the courts of the mental health impact of someone else’s criminal act against you.