Is Emotional Distress a Personal Injury?

Is Emotional Distress a Personal Injury?

Certainly, emotional anguish may be regarded as a type of personal injury.

Personal injury encompasses any detriment or harm experienced by an individual, encompassing not just physical harm but also emotional or psychological distress.

An image illustration of How Emotional Distress affects Personal Injury
How Emotional Distress affects Personal Injury
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What Constitutes Emotional Distress?

Conceptually, emotional distress is quite straightforward; it refers to mental suffering.

However, its legal definition can be more intricate. While the precise terminology may differ from one state to another.

The fundamental concept of emotional distress is mental anguish brought about by the actions of another person whether intentional or accidental.

Symptoms of emotional distress can encompass:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Feelings of shame or guilt
  4. Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or nightmares
  5. Recurrent flashbacks
  6. Persistent fatigue
  7. Frequent headaches
  8. Unexplained changes in weight
  9. Uncontrollable bouts of crying

Types of Emotional Distress Claims and Examples Emotional distress

claims can be based on negligence or intentional harm.

Negligence cases typically require physical symptoms, like hives or tremors, in most states.

Bystander claims allow witnessing emotional distress, usually limited to family members.

Intentional infliction cases demand extreme and outrageous conduct, often requiring physical reactions for a stronger claim.

What You Must Establish in an Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Lawsuit

To prove intentional infliction of emotional distress, you’ll need to demonstrate:

  1. The defendant had a duty to act reasonably and not engage in extreme or outrageous behavior likely to cause distress.
  2. The defendant violated that duty by intentionally or recklessly engaging in outrageous conduct.
  3. The defendant’s actions led to your distress and harm.

It’s beneficial to have documentation of your suffering, such as post-incident diagnoses of conditions like PTSD or anxiety caused by the defendant’s actions.

Some states also extend the bystander law to intentional infliction cases, allowing individuals close to the target to sue for emotional distress, even if they weren’t the primary targets.

An image illustration of whether Emotional Distress is a Personal injury
Is Emotional Distress a Personal injury
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What Counts as Evidence of Emotional Distress in a Lawsuit?

Emotional distress is inherently abstract, making it challenging to substantiate in court.

Courts and juries are generally reluctant to compensate individuals solely for hurt feelings, so it’s crucial to provide substantial evidence.

If you’ve sought therapy, counseling, or psychiatric treatment following the incident, any new diagnoses or medication adjustments can serve as evidence of your emotional distress.

Another potentially compelling source of evidence is data from fitness or sleep trackers.

These devices can offer records demonstrating changes in your heart rate or sleep patterns since the traumatic event.

The admissibility of such evidence can vary depending on state laws and individual judges.

Nonetheless, any reliable evidence supporting your emotional distress claim should be presented in court.

How to Initiate an Emotional Distress Lawsuit

  1. Know the Time Limits: Each state has its own deadline (statute of limitations) for filing an emotional distress claim, typically ranging from one to six years. Consult an attorney to understand your state’s specific deadline.
  2. Find a Trustworthy Attorney: Seek recommendations for a reliable attorney from friends, family, or local bar associations. You can also ask for referrals from other attorneys you may have worked with in the past.
  3. Document Your Distress: Begin by documenting your emotional distress, including any physical symptoms. Physical signs strengthen your case.
  4. Consult an Attorney: Meet with an attorney to review your evidence and assess the viability of your case. Your attorney will guide you on gathering more evidence and prepare you for trial.
  5. Pre-Trial Preparations: Work with your attorney to file the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The pre-trial phase includes discovery, where information is exchanged between parties.
  6. Trials and Settlements: The trial takes place on a court-assigned date. Your attorney presents your case, and a verdict is reached. Settlement discussions may occur at any point, even before filing the lawsuit or during trial.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What qualifies as emotional distress?
  2. What emotional issues can lead to a lawsuit?
  3. Is it challenging to pursue a legal claim for emotional distress?

ALSO READ : How to win your Personal Injury Claim

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