What does “emotional stress” mean?
Emotional distress, which is also called mental anguish, is defined by the law as a very unpleasant emotional reaction (like pain, shame, or anger) caused by the actions of another person and for which damages can be sought. Emotional distress claims are for when someone else’s actions cause a victim to have a strong emotional reaction. For emotional distress to be taken into account in court, the act must have been either careless or done on purpose. Even though it isn’t always necessary, the plaintiff is more likely to get paid if he or she was also physically hurt.
Signs of emotional trouble
Emotional distress can show up in many different ways. Each person who has experienced emotional trauma is different, and so are their symptoms and how bad they are.
Some common signs of emotional distress are:
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings are common.
- Behaviors that are obsessive and/or repetitive
- More anger and frustration
- Memory and the ability to recall information deteriorate.
- Anger management problems
- Constant exhaustion
- Changes in weight and/or hunger
Emotional distress has many of the same signs as depression and anxiety disorders. Most of the time, victims need counseling and/or psychiatric care to get better. People who have symptoms should see a doctor or other health care professional as soon as possible.
How do you sue someone for causing you emotional pain?
It’s not always easy to sue for emotional distress. Emotional distress lawsuits need proof, and it’s harder to prove emotional damages than physical ones. Even though this makes the process harder, it’s still possible.
Bringing a lawsuit for emotional distress
If you think you have a case for emotional distress, you should work with a personal injury lawyer. He or she will gather the information needed to answer the big question: “Can you sue for emotional distress?” Once you know you have a good case, it’s time to file a claim. Your lawyer will help you through the whole process of a civil case. If the judge rules in your favor or if you and the defendant come to a deal outside of court, you will be paid for your losses.
How to File a Lawsuit for Emotional Damages
The legal definition of emotional distress makes it clear that the victim’s mental pain must be caused by the actions of another person. Several conditions must be met for emotional distress damages to be upheld in court.
Among these are:
Intentional or careless harm
The plaintiff (the person who was hurt) has to prove that the defendant did it on purpose or by accident. Intentional infliction means that the person either meant to hurt someone or didn’t care at all. Negligence means that the person didn’t act with the care that a reasonable person would have in the same situation.
When you sue for pain and suffering, you need to give as much accurate information and proof as you can. The people who were hurt must be able to show that they went through mental pain. For this claim, there could be medical records, lists of prescriptions, witnesses, and statements from qualified medical professionals like a therapist or psychiatrists.
Damage to the body (required in certain states) In some states, people who sue for emotional distress must also have suffered physical harm from the same event. If this is not a requirement in your state, you can get money for emotional harm even if no one was hurt physically. But emotional distress compensation is more common when there are also signs of physical harm.
Common Lawsuits for Emotional Distress
Many things that are bad enough to warrant a lawsuit are traumatic. People who go through a traumatic event often have mental problems for a long time after the event. Because of this, accidents, abuse, and neglect often lead to emotional distress claims.
Emotional distress claims are often made in the following types of lawsuits:
Patients deserve an accurate diagnosis, safe treatment, and quality medical care. When this doesn’t happen, patients get sick. In cases of medical malpractice, patients and their families often get money for emotional distress.
Seeing a wrongful death happen
Whether it’s a friend, family member, or even a stranger, it’s hard to deal with seeing someone die. Witnesses to wrongful deaths often go through a lot of mental pain, which makes it hard for them to get back into life and work.
Personal injury law covers a large number of cases that go to court. Personal injury includes anything that hurts a person’s body, mind, or emotional health, from being attacked to being exposed to poison. In these lawsuits, the people who were hurt often want money for both their physical and mental pain.
Arrests made in error
Research on the mental effects of being wrongfully convicted shows that exonerees have a lot of trouble getting back into life after being set free. Because they have so many problems, they often have mental health problems. People who have been wrongfully arrested can sue for emotional distress damages to pay for their mental pain and any costs they have incurred as a result (such as assessments, counseling, medications, etc.).
Troubled Feelings After a Car Accident
People who are hurt in car or truck accidents that weren’t their fault often have to deal with both physical and emotional pain. Serious accident victims can also get anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This happens a lot when a driver isn’t paying attention.
Abuse in a Nursing Home
People who are abused or neglected in a nursing home are hurt by the people who work there. This makes them more likely to get sick in a number of ways. When this happens, the people hurt and their families have the right to sue for emotional pain. These lawsuits are only some of the many examples of emotional distress. In many different situations, you can get money for mental and emotional pain. Talk to an experienced injury lawyer if you want to know if you can claim damages for emotional distress in your case.
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