The Explainer: Damages in South Carolina Personal Injury Actions – Mental Anguish

In South Carolina, an injured party may recover for mental anguish brought about by bodily injury and suffering. Where a party’s negligence is directly responsible for physical injury to another, the injured party may recover both for actual physical injury sustained and for concomitant mental and emotional suffering which flow as a natural consequence of the wrongful act.

When connected with a physical injury, the term “mental anguish” includes both the resultant mental sensation of pain and also the accompanying feelings of distress, fright, and anxiety. In other words, mental anguish covers not only the pain associated with the injury but also the mental reaction to that pain and to the possible consequences of the injury.

“Mental anguish” is more than mere disappointment, anger, worry, resentment, or embarrassment, although it may include all of these, and it includes mental sensation of pain resulting from such painful emotions as grief, severe disappointment, indignation, wounded pride, shame, despair, and humiliation.

“Mental anguish” can be composed of fright, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, mortification, humiliation, embarrassment, terror, or ordeal.

If a jury finds the injured party is entitled to recover damages, it may consider as an element of those damages such mental anguish as it finds, to a reasonable certainty, will occur in the future as a result of the injuries. In assessing mental anguish, the jury may take into account anxiety or worry about the possible future occurrence or condition resulting from the injuries that the plaintiff received, if it is satisfied to a reasonable certainty that the plaintiff will suffer such anxiety and worry.

The jury may award damages for mental anguish where the evidence shows, for example, that the plaintiff suffered shock, fright, emotional upset, and/or humiliation as the result of the defendant’s negligence.

About Christian Stegmaier
Senior Shareholder

Christian Stegmaier is a shareholder and chair of the Retail & Hospitality Practice Group at Collins & Lacy in Columbia. He is also active in the firm’s professional liability and appellate practices. Stegmaier welcomes your questions at (803) 255-0454 or