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Damage due to a crash isn't limited to the physical injury

Sometimes companies do the right thing and take responsibility when tragedies occur. At least, sometimes they try to. We saw it happen recently when the airline Germanwings announced it is offering 25,000 euros in compensation to relatives of passengers who died in March when a pilot decided to fly their plane into a mountainside. The amount is in addition to 50,000-euro payments issued as part of financial assistance required by German law.

One attorney calls the offer insufficient considering the emotional suffering that the relatives of the victims have suffered. Unfortunately, the law limits the compensation that relatives can seek.

That is not the case in Texas. The law does make it possible for plaintiffs to seek recovery for emotional pain and suffering as well as physical injury. Putting a dollar figure on the emotional toll taken on an accident victim can be difficult, but it is doable. And there can be no doubt that there is a cost paid.

Take for example the accident last year that nearly claimed the life of comedian Tracy Morgan, and which did take the life of his friend, Jimmy Mack. Morgan observed in one recent interview that "Bones heal, but the loss of my friend will never heal."

Psychology experts know that vehicle crashes can leave a victim emotionally traumatized for a long time. And it can be worse when the trauma is combined with the grief associated with the loss of a loved one. By some estimates, as many as 30 percent of people who survive horrible accidents develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Others may fall into depression or experience anxiety and the symptoms can be long lasting.

Sometimes traumatic brain injury results from a serious crash and leaves the victim without a memory of what happened. But even that doesn't eliminate the possibility of psychological damage. Trauma may occur with the retelling of what happened. The mere fact of not being able to remember the events could cause trauma.

The depth of psychological damage from an accident may not be immediately apparent, but clearly that does not mean it does not exist. And victims should know they have rights to seek compensation.

Source: Live Science, "Tracy Morgan Car Accident: Crashes Leave Many with Emotional Scars," Tia Ghose, June 2, 2015

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