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It is very common for someone to experience emotional distress as a result of their physical injuries from a car accident. Although you could sue for damages from your actual physical injuries, could you sue for the emotional distress suffered? What is emotional distress? How could I prove it?

Below is an article that discusses whether you could sue for emotional distress, and how you could prove your emotional distress claims. Overall, compared to physical injuries, emotional distress is harder to quantify and put into specific numbers that defendant will have to compensate. The emotional distress is very real, and each plaintiff handles emotional distress while suffering from physical injuries very differently. That is why it is very important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to pursue your emotional distress claims and ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress, especially under legal doctrines, is considered some type of suffering or anguish as a result of the physical injuries sustained. The physical injuries must be caused by some sort of negligence on behalf of the defendant. Emotional distress is a separate kind of damages that plaintiff could recover from defendant. It is considered a separate category. Emotional distress damages are claimed within that same civil lawsuit for physical injuries against defendant. However, one of the most important fact we advise our clients is that emotional distress claims must be backed up by evidence. Plaintiff cannot make an emotional distress claim without any evidence at all. There needs to be evidence of distress or trauma.

Further, it is important that you keep in mind that emotional distress must be accompanied with physical injuries. You cannot make a claim for emotional distress without having any other physical injuries suffered as a result of the accident. There needs to be some type of physical harm that comes along with the emotional distress. However, some courts are still willing to accept emotional distress in rape or abuse cases.

How Could You Sue for Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress takes place in two different types of claims. Below are the two different types of claims explained.

  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress: this occurs when defendant’s negligence results in emotional distress to the plaintiff. Defendant did not intentionally want to bring about emotional distress on to Plaintiff. California considers the “zone of danger” standard, where plaintiff was within that zone of danger to be able to recover for emotional distress.
    • For example, if a biker is driving down the road and accidentally hits a child’s mother, the child standing nearby would assert a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress: this occurs when defendant intentionally wants to bring about emotional distress on to Plaintiff. Defendant acts to cause emotional distress to Plaintiff.
    • For example, if one man wants to bring harm to another man, he lies to the other men telling him that his wife is cheating on him. The only reason why the man lied was to bring about emotional distress. The man who suffered distress can bring about a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress to the other man.

What Type of Evidence is Needed for Emotional Distress?

There are different types of evidence we advise our clients to bring in when making a claim for emotional distress. The more evidence you have, the stronger your claims would be. Examples of evidence that could strengthen your emotional distress claim include:

  • Physical injuries: suffering from physical injuries is necessary in order to bring about an emotional distress claim. Physical injuries must be said within the claim. There does no need to be severe injuries, any type of physical injury, such as pain will suffice.
  • Medical records and bills:  medical records are necessary in order to prove the diagnosis that plaintiff had. With all medical records, it would be very difficult to prove what exactly plaintiff did suffer. Without any type of evidence, defendant would argue that they did not cause the emotional distress.
  • Length: the longer plaintiff has suffered from emotional distress, the more likely the emotional distress claim would be strong.
  • Friends and family: friends and family testimonies will be able to establish when the emotional distress occurred, and how severe the emotional distress was. They are going to be people who have seen and witnessed your emotional distress.

How Could I Sue for Emotional Distress?

Our attorneys have decades of experience handling emotional distress personal injury claims. Below are some steps we advise our clients during consultation regarding how an emotional distress claim would occur.

  1. Make sure that your emotional distress is a documented. Documents could include daily journals you can write, medical bills, medical records, etc. Essentially it would be any type of document that could build up your case and prove that you suffered emotional distress. The more the emotional distress is documented, the more likely you will be able to win on an emotional distress claim.
  2. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney: it is important that you contact skilled attorney that could file the emotional distress lawsuit against the defendant.
  3. File the emotional distress lawsuit against defendant
  4. Discovery: once defendant has been served, defendant will then file an answer. During this time, discovery would begin for each party and they would gather evidence to support their claim. During this time, there would also be settlement negotiations to prevent going to trial. Most likely, parties would prefer not going to trial since trial could be very costly.
  5. Trial: if the client decides not to accept the settlement amount, then both parties would end up going to trial.

As seen above, suing for emotional distress could be very complicated. There are certain steps that must be taken correctly or else the entire claim would be potentially dismissed. That is why it is very important to hire a skilled emotional distress attorney.

Which Types of Damages are Considered Emotional Distress?

Damages are categorized into two different types: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that could be easily calculated such as medical bills, lost wages, therapy, prescription medication. Non-economic damages Include those that are not easily quantifiable. They do not have a specific cost attached to them. This includes pain and suffering, humiliation, anxiety, emotional distress, and insomnia.

If you or a loved one have experienced emotional distress as a result of physical injuries sustained from a car accident, contact our California attorneys today discuss your claim at a free no risk consultation. During this consultation, we will evaluate your claim and determine the merits of it. We could also determine the damages we will be able to recover for your injuries. We have decades of experience representing emotional distress claims. Our offices are conveniently located in major cities throughout California and Nevada.

***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.