How can you sue in an emotional distress lawsuit?

by | Oct 26, 2021 | Personal Injury | 5 comments

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It is undoubtedly true and easy to settle for all the economic damages arising from car accidents, spinal cord injury, brain injury, and slip and fall cases. Comparatively, tough to claim for the 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 assassinating life gradually. Witnessing the loss of the beloved 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 to another disease or illness in the form of headache, back pain, mental disorder, withdrawal symptoms, and isolation from day-to-day activity, shifts in mood, depression, insomnia, etc. Hence, an emotional distress lawsuit can be sued in the 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?

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

The legal dictionary on law claims emotional distress is 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 is given permission for filing an emotional distress lawsuit. It does not matter whether the assault is minor or major. The plaintiff can sue for the emotional pain, and the agony s/he 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 the 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 to inter-state 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 belonging 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 to 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 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 battery where the consent of the patient is not taken to consideration.

Negligent infliction of emotional distress

Negligent infliction of emotional distress comes in close proximity to 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 the compensation for the emotional trauma even if the plaintiff is not physically injured or harmed.

For instance, Richard walks on the pedestrian path towards 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 distress tort will be explicated in the following lines.

  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Deteriorating quality of life
  • Investing time to worry
  • Cognitive changes after an accident
  • Having difficulty in 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 closely associates with the bystander who gets emotional wounds and 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 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 hospital for the treatment.

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

Emotional distress leading to physical ailments

Various studies have exposed that severe mental distress or emotional trauma put 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.

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 disturbs 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 inefficiency of the entire immune response. This is consistent with the finding that we are prone to suffer from infection, cancer, hyper-sensitivity, 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 needs to visit a psychologist or a psychiatrist. S/he will better help you identify the true distress and disorder. This may help the plaintiff to get the desired distress settlement. The byproduct of mental anguish and emotional suffering is at 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 an 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.

Steps to sue emotional distress lawsuit

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

  • Keep a track record of the traumatic distress in the 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 documents 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 the reasonable compensation for the pain and suffering.

How to recover for emotional trauma?

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

  • Bodily ailments and physical injuries caused by emotional trauma need to be enunciated as from emotional distress.
  • The longevity of the emotional trauma and emotional distress need to be proved. Higher the time of suffering emotional distress and mental trauma will decide the amount for the recovery settlement.
  • Clinical reports from doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other therapists will help before the jury to recover for emotional trauma.
  • Witnesses must speak on your behalf before the civil court. A witness can include a stress reduction team, mental health professionals, support network, psychologist, psychiatrist, and 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 affected severely. The recovery of emotional trauma depends on the proof the plaintiff produces to the judge. Kindly note the aforementioned strategies while suing today! For emotional distress lawsuit.


Newton’s 3rd law indicates that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. This is true to the article Sue today! for emotional distress lawsuit. Whether you are the wounded or the bystander of the car crash, your emotion is disturbed; the pain, agony, and suffering can foil the creation of immunes 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 was unnoticed, but the contemporary world realized the importance of emotional distress law.

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

Do you have a story to share on emotional distress? Share your thoughts in the comment section.


  1. Audrey

    Body language and symptoms speak more than the physical expression. I’ve found emotional distress to be more painful than the physical pain. It is a daily martyrdom. My mental agony is so excruiciating that I need to file an emotional distress lawsuit. This article has enriched my understanding to do it right.

    • Harold Bentham

      This blog spells-out the emotional distress in a laconic manner. Comparing to physical health, mental health is a significant one. Emotional distress brings suicidal thoughts. This blog really admired me. Congratulations! 👏

  2. Evangelin

    It is an evidence that severe mental distress or emotional trauma can put forth immune-suppressive effect that conquers the body’s capacity to ignite an effective immune response. From this blog, I get an adequate knowledge about the steps to sue emotional distress. The wxamples for the adequate explanation is truely awesom. Thanks for the blog.

  3. Percy Bill

    Great Going! Emotional distress is the worst condition which I have gone through in my life. The pain and suffering lead us to a worst state of living. Emotional distress has made me suffer insomnia and loss of appetite. This blog explains how bad emotional distress can affect our life. Such a Great blog. Feel proud to read again!

  4. Manimala Sunilkumar

    Hi good to meet you! Loved all that you shared and you are right, “Emotional distress affects the human psyche very badly to the extend of assassinating life gradually.” I simply love it and I’m going to share it with my friends. Great job.


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