Emotional Distress Lawsuit: How Can You Sue?

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Personal Injury

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It is undoubtedly true and easy to settle for all the economic damages arising from car accidents, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and slip and fall cases. Comparatively, it is tough to claim non-economic damages since mental anguish cannot be weighed with proper calculus for a financial settlement, which is ever-overlapping.

General or non-economic damages are immeasurable in terms of money but inject terrible mental anguish, emotional trauma, mental distress, pain, and suffering.

Emotional distress affects the human psyche very badly, to the extent of gradually assassinating life. Witnessing the loss of a loved one in a motor vehicle accident can create mental trauma, stroke, fear, anxiety, fright, shock, and other emotional distress symptoms.

According to psychologists and psychiatrists, this can also evolve into another disease or illness in the form of headache, back pain, mental disorder, withdrawal symptoms, isolation from day-to-day activity, shifts in mood, depression, insomnia, etc. Hence, a civil suit for emotional distress can be filed in civil court for reasonable compensation.

John J. Kircher, in his book “Liability for Emotional Harm,” invokes that even the parasitic emotional harm and mental anguish followed by a personal injury can be compensated for emotional distress.

This article will enlighten the reader on whether an emotional distress lawsuit in the present can be sued for settlement or compensation—the types of tort law related to mental distress, pain, and suffering due to personal injury. The premeditated records are to be maintained in honor of the mental trauma.

What is emotional distress definition?

Emotional distress is a mind and body-connected phenomenon. This inculcates the suffering and mental anguish the mind and body undergo due to a bodily injury or witnessing an inflicted injury to the third person.

The legal dictionary on law claims emotional distress definition as an increasingly popular claim of damages in lawsuits for personal injury due to the negligence or intentional acts of another. Recently, “courts in many states have recognized a right to an award of money damages for emotional distress without physical injury or contact.”

The concept of emotional distress states that it can be sued for mental trauma, emotional pain, and suffering.

Types of Emotional Distress torts

There are four types of emotional distress, according to the legal data. You can file a mental anguish lawsuit under these four categories with proper validation and depth of the emotional harm and mental trauma to place a dollar value worth upon it.


Assault is fundamentally related to mental rather than physical attack or incursion. The damages that need to be covered depend on the plaintiff’s suffering, pain, and traumatic experiences.

In every state in the US, assault victims are permitted to file emotional distress lawsuits. It does not matter whether the assault is minor or major. The plaintiff can sue for the emotional pain and agony he or she undergoes. It does not require any physical injury to be visible.

Assault includes:-

  • unlawful threat
  • sexual harassment
  • sex discrimination
  • harmful words
  • Illegitimate comments and many more.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress

Intentional infliction of emotional distress in common terms indicates that the defendant intends to cause distress, mental agony, emotional pain, mental trauma, etc., to the plaintiff through threat and emotional torture.

For example, we can take the case of Wilkinson vs. Downton. In this case, Wilkinson goes interstate for some work-related purpose. Downton makes a joke to Wilkinson’s wife that he met with an accident and is severely injured. He further tells her to take some of Wilkinson’s belongings to the hospital to bring him home. The court found fault with the defendant.

Wilkinson’s wife was emotionally disturbed. Her nervous system was affected. She was in utter shock. She moved with fear and anxiety. Her mental anguish and pain were non-negotiable.

The following elements need to be proved before the jury can receive an emotional distress settlement by the plaintiff’s attorney:

  • The defendant’s behavior is contemptible according to the legal tort laws.
  • The defendant has acted deliberately to infuse mental anguish, emotional distress, and emotional trauma.
  • The plaintiff needs to prove that the damage in emotional distress has happened at the behest of the defendant’s action.

All this proof will certify that the defendant inflicted the plaintiff’s mental stress, anxiety, shock, fear, suffering, and pain.

Emotional suffering can also be inflicted through medical batteries where the consent of the patient is not taken into consideration.

Negligent infliction of emotional distress

Negligent infliction of emotional distress comes in close proximity to a personal injury lawsuit. The defendant caused emotional harm or mental anguish to the plaintiff due to his or her reckless action. Modern-day civil law in most states in the US will go with compensation for the emotional trauma even if the plaintiff is not physically injured or harmed.

For instance, Richard walks on the pedestrian path toward home. Meanwhile, Smith and Eckert have a car race in the middle of the road. Smith lost control and came to hit Richard. Nevertheless, the vehicle did not hit him but caused severe shock, leading to mental trauma for days and mental distress thereafter.

This case indicates that, though Smith has inflicted emotional pain and trauma recklessly, Richard is to be compensated for the medical bills and the suffering he undergoes.

Damages of emotional distress

The damages that arise from mental distress need to be compensated appropriately with money. The possible damages a person can undergo concerning a distress tort will be explained in the following lines:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Deteriorating quality of life
  • Investing time to worry
  • Cognitive changes after an accident
  • Having difficulty thinking and remembering
  • Psychological trauma or disorder
  • Instinctual action
  • Discrepancy in behavior
  • Depression
  • Humiliation, and so on

Parasitic emotional harm 

Parasitic emotional harm is suffered by the third party. It is closely associated with the bystander who gets emotional wounds, mental disturbances, or even physical injuries. The bystander can be emotionally suffering in both cases, namely, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

An apt example can be the father of the child watching from the window his only child returning home from school. There was a terrible car crash, killing his daughter. Father, from the window with the heavy shock, fell face down unconscious. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

He was still an emotionally disturbed man, being treated by psychiatrists and psychologists. In this case, the bystander (the father) was emotionally distressed and physically wounded. The mental anguish still remains fresh in his conscious and subconscious minds. The plaintiff needs to be compensated for not only the fall but also the byproducts of the fall and the accidental shock.

Emotional distress leading to physical ailments

Various studies have exposed that severe mental distress or emotional trauma puts forth an immune-suppressive effect that conquers the body’s capacity to ignite an effective immune response. This is due to the bounty of corticosteroids formed at the behest of emotional distress or trauma, which yields a disproportion in corticosteroid levels and deteriorates the competitive ability of the immune system.

This deterioration of immune function is believed to be connected with the tension on the various body parts linked with the creation and repair of the immune system. Salleh M.R., a great psychiatrist, in his article named “life event illness and stress,” gives a good example to prove how emotional distress and mental anguish disturb the hormones, which finally leads to various diseases.

The example proceeds as atrophy of the thymus or shrinking of the thymus results in its inability to produce T cells or the hormones needed to stimulate them. This can lead to an imbalance and the inefficiency of the entire immune response. This is consistent with the finding that we are more likely to suffer from infection, cancer, hypersensitivity, and auto-immunity as we get older.

Every mental and emotional pain is connected to some bodily reaction in the later stages, so the moment the plaintiff feels the pain and mental suffering preceded by mental shock, he or she needs to visit a psychologist or psychiatrist. He or she will better help you identify true distress and disorder. This may help the plaintiff get the desired settlement. The byproduct of mental anguish and emotional suffering is in your overview.

  • Gastrointestinal disease (peptic ulcer-PU, ulcerative colitis – UC)
  • Asthmatic disease
  • Skin allergies
  • Nerve damage
  • Diabetes
  • Neck pain
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Heart attack
  • Dementia
  • Suffering about the broken body, and so on.

While suing for emotional distress lawsuit, all these non-economic damages need to be penned down with proper witnesses and records. If you have ever met a psychologist or psychiatrist, they would already have possessed such data to support your lawsuit.

How to sue someone for emotional distress lawsuit?

These are the basics the plaintiff needs to prepare before suing for emotional distress, suffering, and pain.

  • Keep a track record of the traumatic distress in written form (logging).
  • Discuss with the psychologist, psychiatrist, and therapist.
  • Consult a personal injury attorney and describe the mental agony, emotional anguish, and other distress in detail.
  • Submit a copy of the entire document to the attorney for verification.
  • File an emotional distress lawsuit.
  • Get ready for pre-trial dissemination.
  • Trial and settlement

With this, the jury will consider the full details presented and give a verdict on how much would be reasonable compensation for the pain and suffering.

How to recover compensation for emotional trauma?

We need to have the evidence required to recover compensation for emotional trauma. If we possess the entire details with proof and the right witness, recovery is very easy. The following strategy will help the plaintiff sue for the recovery and settlement of emotional trauma.

  • Bodily ailments and physical injuries caused by emotional trauma need to be enunciated as emotional distress.
  • The longevity of the emotional trauma and emotional distress needs to be proven. The severity of the emotional distress and mental trauma will determine the amount of the recovery settlement.
  • Clinical reports from doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other therapists will help the jury recover from emotional trauma.
  • Witnesses must speak on your behalf before the civil court. A witness can include a stress reduction team, mental health professionals, a support network, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and the kith and kin of the victim.

According to the emotional distress law, every citizen in the US is entitled to file an emotional injury lawsuit if severely affected. The recovery of emotional trauma depends on the proof the plaintiff produces for the judge.

Emotional distress lawsuit settlement

The lawsuit for emotional distress settlement amount is determined by the emotional distress pain scale calculator. If the pain is unbearable mentally and psychologically, a lawsuit is filed and demands a mental distress lawsuit settlement amount. Suing for emotional trauma and mental anguish is tough to prove because the measuring aspect of the pain is only experienced by the sufferer.

I can transfer the property to my relatives or anybody I wish, but mental anguish, emotional distress, and emotional trauma cannot be transferred. Hence, we call the emotional distress lawsuit settlement amount non-economic damage. The emotional distress lawsuit settlement calculator will tell how much money the affected person may receive if proven right. The emotional distress settlement amount can vary from state to state, as can the pain and suffering. Some of the US states have placed a steep sum of $2,50,000.

Emotional distress lawsuit settlement example

A mental distress lawsuit settlement cannot be filed without any reason. You can sue UCLA (the University of California, Los Angeles) for an emotional distress lawsuit settlement if you are being affected by it or looking for ease from the mental anguish. I want to present you a heart-wrenching emotional distress lawsuit example from the University of California, Los Angeles.

There have been many lawsuits since 2017 against UCLA for sexual abuse, molestation, and emotional distress lawsuit settlements, along with personal injury. The recent news on Dr. James heaps abuse on the patients for years, leaving terrible emotional damage and a scar on the victims. It is predominantly about the sex abuse suit. However, one of the 203 women affected during the treatment, Kara Cagle, says that it was traumatic and could be the right option for an emotional damage lawsuit.

Are you considering suing for emotional damage? The class action on the American penal law forced the jury to provide a verdict on an emotional distress lawsuit settlement of $2500 to $250,000. The patients were affected by emotional distress and some sort of physical injury, which is about 6,600 patients. Beware of the emotional scar. If anybody has been affected by the treatment at UCLA, you have the right to an emotional distress lawsuit settlement.

Settlement of the Fair Chance Act: Citi Connect (2023)

In order to settle a Fair Chance Act lawsuit, Citi Connect, LLC had to make adjustments and pay $17,920 in damages along with $10,000 in civil penalties. The plaintiff alleged that failing to follow Fair Chance Act protocols during a background check resulted in a job denial after receiving a conditional offer.

Queries on emotional distress lawsuits

People all over the US ask varied questions, starting from kids to older adults. The questions are as follows: can I sue someone for emotional distress, can you sue someone for emotional damage, can I sue my father for emotional distress, how to sue a school for emotional distress, can you sue for emotional trauma, can you sue a school for emotional distress, can you sue someone for emotional abuse and trauma, can you sue a university for emotional distress, can you sue a company for mental distress, suing parents for emotional distress, and mental anguish lawsuits. These are the queries raised by common men and women.

What are the emotional damages a person with emotional distress can have?

Emotional distress can be intensely stressful, leading to mental and physical illness. Plaintiffs witnessing the incident can lead to fear, anxiety, trembling, insecurities, etc. They lead to forgetfulness, blood pressure, loss of appetite, trauma, shivering, unwanted physical responses, etc.

Can you be sued for emotional distress?

I must be suing for emotional distress lawsuit with the help of an attorney. I shall provide the entire scenario pictorially with proof to the personal injury attorney. Anyone who suffers from emotional distress must sue to take care of the beloved in the family and the plaintiff himself. 

How can mental anguish be inflicted?

Mental anguish is perpetrated by the third party. It can be the death of a closely associated member of the family or an event (accident). Mental anguish is a kind of mental or emotional distress that causes terrible pain to the mind and heart. Mental anguish prevents or hinders the natural happiness of the plaintiff.

Can I sue for the intentional infliction of emotional distress?

Yes, you can sue for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Anybody who wants to terrify you by creating emotional suffering or emotional disturbances can sue before the court to balance the non-economic damages you encountered.

How to define suing?

In the ordinary sense, suing will indicate an appeal for legal proceedings against the defaulter. The Collins dictionary defines suing as “bringing a civil action against or prosecuting in a court of law in seeking justice or redressing wrongs. It is to sue someone for damages.” 

How much can you sue for emotional distress?

You can sue for emotional distress for 3 to 7 times the cost of the cost of the medical treatment. The cost includes disability, lost present and future wages, present and future medical costs, emotional damages, and depression deep down. The sum depends on the severity of the case and the injuries caused. The sum may vary from state to state.

There is a question frequently asked by my readers: how much can the emotional distress lawsuit settlement amounts be? The question is well answered at the beginning of the sentence; however, lawsuits for emotional distress settlement amounts can be in some states 2 to 5 times and in other states 3 to 7 times the emotional damages perpetrated, depending on the graveness of the cases.

What are the reasons to sue someone?

The reasons are manifold. Let me list out some of the common reasons to sue someone. The reasons to sue someone are personal injury, defamation, product liability, nuisance, breach of contract, breach of security, breach of warranty, failure to give back the security deposit, property damage, professional malpractice, etc. 

Is suing for pain and suffering a positive outcome?

Suing for pain and suffering breeds positive outcomes, provided the cause for suing for pain and suffering is genuine. Every pain and suffering has a monetary value that cannot be measured but is experienced; hence, the sum of the settlement claim remains higher. Suffering and pain are a metaphysical reality, though they inflict pain terribly.

Can I sue my employer for emotional distress?

Yes, you can sue your employer for emotional distress, but it’s a cautious path. But now you may wonder, “How to sue employer for emotional distress?”

Initially, you should hire an attorney, collect evidence that the harm was done by intention, and prove that specific actions caused significant mental distress. However, winning such a case is quite challenging unless you can prove intentional actions causing documented distress. In some cases, people sued for emotional distress without substantial proof, and they failed.

Just having a difficult boss or a stressful job might not be enough to win. Successful cases are those that link emotional distress to more noticeable issues, like an abusive work environment or a harassment claim that can be easily proven.In some situations, people say that because there’s a problem at work that can be proven and it causes them stress. They then ask their employer for compensation, claiming the work issue led to emotional distress. However, proving that the job directly caused this distress is hard, especially if there’s no clear evidence of wrongdoing. It’s tricky to show that the emotional distress is a direct result of the job without solid proof.

Can you sue social security for emotional distress?

If you have experienced emotional distress, sue social security for negligence. It so happened in Philadelphia that a widower had two social security benefits. Since she had two, the former and latter simultaneously sent the report to the widower, saying, You have another social security benefit, so we will not provide it. The widow did sue social security for negligence before the Philadelphia court and received the full advantage with ease.

What can you sue for?

I can sue for anything that disturbs the freedom and liberty of the individual in the US. Phenomenally, the great thing in the US is to live a life worthy of oneself and others. I am the supporter of the other, not the destroyer. You can sue if anything goes against the natural order, specifically the act against the US Constitution.

Can I sue my father for emotional distress?

Absolutely! One can justify the question of whether I can sue my father for emotional distress. Or can you sue a school for emotional and mental distress? The world has a lot to tell us. If you go unheard, you can learn nothing. Though you may learn to understand without the empirical world, the process of learning is in vain.

Nobody has the right to inflict emotional distress on another. It is against nature too. It may happen that a primordial action can cause emotional or mental distress. The question is: how to sue a school for emotional distress, or can I sue my father for emotional distress? I have mentioned the details about how to sue for emotional distress.

As some say, I cannot sue my father for giving birth. BBC News gives a relevant example of how an individual is trying to sue his parents for giving him birth. He demands an emotional distress lawsuit settlement amount until he lives. This is strange, but true. in the category of the virtue of life, whether school or father (parents), can be sued for stress and mental anguish. If anybody asks, can I sue for harassment and emotional distress, there is no doubt that you can sue for the emotional distress lawsuit payout. If you have any more queries, I am ready to answer with 100% precision.

Can you sue a coworker for emotional distress?

The answer is yes; you can possibly sue a coworker for emotional distress. To initiate a lawsuit, the first step is to hire an attorney and consult with him to understand your legal standing and the necessary steps. It’s very important to have proper documented evidence showing intentional harm or severe wrongdoing. The best idea is to talk with an attorney to see if your case is strong and figure out a plan to sue the cowroker.

How to sue a school for emotional distress lawsuit settlement?

The United States of America has given prime importance to personal freedom. Nobody has the right to disturb the liberty of any individual. If a student or a teacher is being harassed or given mental anguish due to their behavior, you can sue the school management for emotional distress.

In other words, anything that disturbs the moral freedom of any individual on the school premises, irrespective of teacher, students, parents, etc., can you sue a university for emotional distress, you are liable to sue the school for an emotional distress lawsuit. You can get the entire settlement for the emotional trauma or the emotional pain you underwent over time and even thereafter.

The procedure for suing the school for emotional distress or suing someone for emotional trauma would be to approach the personal injury attorney of the respective state or country you belong to. Prior to the personal injury lawsuit or emotional distress lawsuit, you need to have the right proof about the situation for which you want to sue the school or someone for emotional distress. Since it comes under non-economic damage, it is tough to prove. Nevertheless, the pain scale calculation and pain and suffering value will help you to go properly with the advice of the personal injury attorney.


Newton’s 3rd law indicates that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This is true for the article. Whether you are the wounded or the bystander of the car crash, your emotions can be disturbed; the pain, agony, and suffering can foil the production of immune cells in the body.

The exertion of immunes prevented and ceased to gush forth due to the emotional distress leading to many physical injuries. For centuries, it went unnoticed, but the contemporary world realized the importance of the emotional distress law.

The emotional distress law paved the way for emotionally distressed people to sue today and get recovery from emotional trauma.

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