The common question that many clients have when bringing forth a personal injury negligence lawsuit against a defendant is if they could sue for emotional distress. And if so, how they could prove it. Personal injury accidents not only involve physical harm and injuries, but it may also involve emotional distress. Physical harm from injuries in a negligence accident are easier to quantify since there could be receipts for medical bills, lost wages, etc. But emotional distress suffered as a result of the physical injuries could be difficult to quantify. Several victims face emotional distress after enduring such severe accidents. Our personal injury attorneys constantly strive to make sure our clients receive just compensation for the distress that they have been through. Our attorneys would also want our clients to be constantly informed of what legal terms mean, along with how we could achieve them.
What is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is referred to as the anguish and emotional suffering as a result of the accident. Emotional distress is a type of damage that could be recoverable in court. Emotional distress is always brought up in civil courts rather than criminal courts. Types of emotional distress include trauma or distress.
What are the Different Ways a Plaintiff Could Sue for Emotional Distress?
There’s two common ways a plaintiff could sue for emotional distress in court. The two ways include:
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress: this occurs when defendant acted negligently end beyond the reasonable standard of care, and this caused plaintiff to endure some type of emotional harm. Some jurisdictions require physical harm when proving emotional distress.
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress: this occurs when defendant acts intentionally to bring about some type of emotional distress from plaintiff. Defendant would have to act outrageously and plaintiff would have to suffer severe emotional distress. For example, intentionally lying to another person that their husband has cheated on them could result in intentional infliction of emotional distress. Any reasonable person who would hear such a statement would undergo severe trauma. Other examples of emotional distress include
- Assault or battery
- Sexual harassment
- Workplace discrimination towards the LGBTQ community
- Injured from drunk driving
Examples of Emotional Distress
Although emotional distress suffered differs from person to person, there are certain symptoms that could commonly be seen in the emotional distress claims. If you or a loved one has experienced any one of these symptoms, contact our skilled personal injury attorneys today to determine the best means of getting just compensation for your injuries.
When Can I Sue for Emotional Distress?
Each state has different statute of limitations that require plaintiff to bring forth their claims within a certain time period. When this time period has passed, plaintiff will be unsuccessful in their lawsuit claims against defendant since defendant can raise the defense that it has been brought untimely. Below are some indications as to when you should bring an emotional distress claim:
- When the other party has committed an act
- When you have been injured
What are the Difficulties of Suing for Emotional Distress?
Navigating through the legal process while suing for emotional distress could be a little bit difficult. Emotional distress is viewed in more of a subjective view, since each person copes differently after going through an accident. Below are some examples of how emotional distress could be difficult to quantify in court.
- Each person may have different standards for what distress is. For example, one person may have PTSD as a result of colliding with another car and refrain from going on freeways again. Another person who would go through the same accident would continue driving on freeways the very next day.
- It is hard getting a monetary value to emotional distress. When compared to medical bills, emotional distress may not have a specific “bill” Plaintiff could refer to. This is also very difficult when plaintiff has not gone to a psychiatrist or psychologist for their distress.
- It is hard for the jury to quantify since emotional distress cannot be physically seen. Emotional distress is not seen to the average person, and so the jury may not understand what the plaintiff is going through.
How is Emotional Distress Proven?
There are different methods for proving emotional distress to the court. It is essential to hire an experienced emotional distress attorney to better determine what method is best for you. Failing to bring forth such evidence could result in not being reimbursed for your emotional distress claims. The more evidence you have to prove emotional distress, the better. Below are some examples for how personal injury attorneys prove emotional distress.
- Expert Witnesses are called in to testify about how plaintiff suffers emotional distress, and how plaintiff is coping with the accident. This helps the jury understand from a medical professional what plaintiff is going through emotionally.
- Documenting feelings and emotional trauma everyday will help plaintiff describe what they are going through to others. Our attorneys advise our clients to maintain a daily journal to constantly document the emotional distress.
- Testimony of family and friends helps the jury in court understand what plaintiff was going through after the accident. They are first hand witnesses to the trauma.
- When the accident is severe, courts are more likely to award emotional distress without the need for much evidence.
- When a long period of time has passed by where the plaintiff has endured emotional distress, the courts are more likely to award damages.
How Do I Sue for emotional distress?
There are different steps a plaintiff must go through in order to sue the other party for emotional distress. Below are common steps plaintiffs go through when bringing forth and emotional distress claim.
- Retaining a personal injury attorney: having an attorney represent you throughout this process is very crucial because many insurance companies would want to take advantage of unrepresented claimants and provide lowball settlement Once you retain an attorney, the attorney will then send a demand letter to the other party explaining the claim and damages asked.
- Document your emotional distress through medical records and daily journals
- Focus on receiving medical treatment for your emotional distress. If a plaintiff neglects to go to a medical professional for their emotional distress, this gives defendant grounds to downplay what’s plaintiff has gone through.
Contact an Emotional Distress Attorney Today
As discussed above, suing for emotional distress to be very complex and require several different standards of evidence. That’s why it is very important to hire skilled personal injury Los Angeles attorney to help you navigate through the legal channels in order to ensure you get just compensation for your emotional distress. Our attorneys understand that going through an accident is not easy at all, so helping our clients in any way is our main priority. Contact us for a free consultation today, where we will review your case and determine the best means for recovering emotional distress for you.
***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.