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Understanding Emotional Distress Claims

Emotions are a part of many legal disputes. But sometimes, a plaintiff endures such horrible emotional distress that it can lead to a lawsuit. In this article, we examine the concept of emotional distress in personal injury cases.

Your situation is unique, and prevailing in a lawsuit or settlement negotiations is not easy. The causes of emotional distress and stressors are not the same for everyone. Seek guidance from an attorney to understand your potential legal claims and whether you have a strong chance of recovering compensation.

Real-World Examples of Emotional Distress

Witnessing a close family member or loved one suffer severe injuries due to another person’s reckless actions is an example of emotional distress. You might have seen them suffer in a car accident or other traumatic event. Enduring relentless bullying from a workplace superior can lead to emotional turmoil that can jeopardize your mental health and livelihood.

Emotional distress can also manifest through physical symptoms. The trauma and anguish you experience can cause sleepless nights, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), having a profound effect on your well-being.

There are two types of emotional distress lawsuits: negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress. This is an important distinction.

Negligent infliction of emotional distress happens when someone’s careless actions lead to emotional harm. For example, a driver’s negligence causes a car accident that leaves you emotionally traumatized. Intentional infliction of emotional distress happens when a party deliberately engages in conduct to cause severe emotional suffering. This could include harassment or threats that target your mental and emotional well-being.

Understanding this difference is crucial because it affects how to handle a personal injury lawsuit. Intentional infliction of emotional distress is an independent cause of action or lawsuit, meaning it is a reason for suing someone. Negligent infliction of emotional distress generally involves other injury claims.

Proving Emotional Distress

Establishing a successful emotional distress claim hinges on proving essential elements of your case. It’s important to remember that these requirements may vary based on the state you live in and the nature and details of your claim. Here are the core elements you typically need to prove:

  • Duty of care: You must show that the party you’re suing owed you a “duty of care,” meaning they were legally obliged to act reasonably and prevent harm. This could be an employer’s duty to ensure a safe work environment or a driver’s duty to pay attention to other cars on the road.
  • Breach of duty: You need to show that the person breached the duty of care through either negligence or intentional actions. This breach must directly correlate with the psychological distress you endured.
  • Causation: You must prove that the breach of the defendant’s duty affected your mental well-being. This means showing that their actions were a large factor in causing your psychological harm.
  • Severe emotional distress: The emotional distress and mental anguish you are experiencing must surpass normal stress levels. Courts need the distress to be severe, meaning it significantly affects your daily life and well-being. Proving this will likely require the testimony of a mental health expert and the doctors and psychologists who are treating you.
  • Damages: This means that the emotional distress you are suffering is actually causing you harm. This can include racking up large medical bills, or losing out on income because you are unable to work. Showing evidence of the damages you suffered due to emotional distress is vital. This can include medical records, therapy expenses, and testimonies from mental health professionals.

Recovering Compensation for Emotional Distress

The potential to recover compensation in an emotional distress claim depends on local laws. If emotional distress is an independent cause of action, you can seek damages for only the psychological harm you suffered. This includes reimbursement for medical bills, therapy costs, psychiatry bills, and lost wages from emotional distress-related symptoms. You can also get compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced.

If emotional distress is part of another lawsuit, your compensation might include broader damages. For example, if you are suing because you suffered physical injuries in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you could recover damages for physical injuries and mental suffering.

Whatever happened to you is unique. An experienced personal injury lawyer will tailor their advice to your circumstances, assess the strength of your claim, collect evidence, and advocate for you.

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