Can I Sue For Emotional Distress

can i sue for emotional distress

One can file a lawsuit for physical injuries after negligent conduct. But under the same situations, a frequent query is, “Can I sue someone for Emotional distress?” 

A major accident can leave victims with physical and mental injuries. Emotional suffering is more difficult to measure than physical harm. Damages and the effect on victims are still very much present, nevertheless.

A victim may get part of these damages by bringing an emotional distress claim. Continue reading as we discuss and know if you and I can sue for emotional distress

What Is Emotional Distress?

Understanding what constitutes emotional distress in legal terms is necessary before moving on to the procedure of filing a lawsuit for emotional distress.

Emotional distress is a sort of mental discomfort or agony brought on by an occurrence involving either carelessness or intentionality. The courts acknowledge that one sort of harm that can be recovered through a civil case is emotional anguish. It implies that if you have proof to back up your allegations, you can file a lawsuit against someone for mental distress or trauma.

Most claims for emotional distress need proof that you have experienced bodily injury due to the occurrence. Recent rulings have, however, given victims the ability to receive compensation for mental suffering without providing proof of physical impairment. Depending on the circumstances, psychological and emotional damage alone brought on by situations like sexual assault or defamation may be sufficient to support an emotional distress claim.

The following are some signs of emotional distress:



guilt or shame

nightmares or insomnia



persistent headaches

Loss or increase in weight

hysterical sobbing

Examples and Types of Common Emotional Distress Claims

Negligence or deliberate infliction of emotional distress is the foundation for emotional distress cases. The distinction between the two sorts of circumstances is what the word “deliberate” most strongly conveys. It may be sufficient to file a case if the defendant intentionally causes suffering.

Can I Sue For Emotional Distress: Unreasonable Injury

There is a clear justification for including pain and suffering in addition to the other harm resulting from the event in the automobile crash scenario. Imagine instead that the accident occurred without any injuries.

Even if there were no physical touch, you would still need to experience some sort of bodily reaction to effectively assert negligent infliction of mental distress in most states. If you had symptoms like hives or tremors in your hand due to fear, you might be entitled to sue the driver for damages.

The need for bodily symptoms might differ from state to state; some let a case proceed even if the symptoms are minor problems like lack of appetite or difficulty sleeping. In recent years, several jurisdictions have eliminated the need for physical symptoms.

Can I Sue For Emotional Distress: The Lawsuit of Bystanders

The “bystander” kind of case is a subcategory of instances of negligent infliction of emotional distress. Let’s revisit the accident case at this point. Although you were never physically in danger and were not present when the motorist passed through the junction, you saw the driver strike your parents as they crossed the street.

You might still sue the driver for causing you mental distress in this situation, even if you had no physical symptoms and were not hurt or touched. This would also be true if you had just arrived on the scene. But if you learned about it afterward, it would not be a case you could pursue.

Most states would prevent you from bringing a lawsuit if your closest friend were to take your parents’ place in the scenario. Most bystander incidents only involve close family members, such as parents, grandparents, children, siblings, or relatives you share a residence with.

Can I Sue For Emotional Distress: Intentional Injury

Everything spoken thus far has dealt with the negligent or unintentional infliction of emotional harm. It is another thing to torture someone’s mind purposefully.

To prevent flimsy lawsuits, courts reserve the term “intentional infliction of emotional distress” (IIED) for situations involving extreme or outrageous behavior.

Whether you can persuade a judge or jury that the behavior was excessive enough to support an IIED claim depends heavily on the case’s facts. Some bullying or name-calling incidents won’t be sufficient to substantiate a claim, but distressing severe ones could.

Physical responses to cruel or aggressive behavior will increase the likelihood of an IIED claim, albeit unnecessary. A spouse’s hospitalization following a severe accident, for instance, may or may not give rise to an IIED claim:

  • An IIED lawsuit will be unsuccessful if the spouse does not accept the narrative or is unconcerned by the joke.
  • An IIED lawsuit may be successful if the spouse is very agitated, anxious, and afraid.
  • An IIED lawsuit is more likely to be successful if the partner is so disturbed that they get a heart attack.

What You Must Show to Win a Case

In order to demonstrate emotional suffering, you must be able to demonstrate:

The defendant has a duty to act fairly and refrain from acting out of line or in an excessive way that may upset others.

The defendant violated that obligation by acting grossly, whether willfully or carelessly.

You were upset and hurt by the defendant’s behavior.

It helps to have proof of your pain in order to succeed on the third factor. Any PTSD or anxiety diagnoses that developed after the defendant’s activities and as a result of those actions will be extremely convincing.

The bystander legislation also covers IIED in several places. Even though they were not the intended target, a person who was close to the one who was might nevertheless file a claim for emotional distress.

What Is Acceptable as Emotional Distress Evidence in Court?

By its very nature, emotional discomfort is imperceptible. It is crucial to present as much evidence as you can to support your claim since courts and juries are unlikely to want to award someone merely for having their feelings hurt.

Any new diagnoses or prescription adjustments may be indicators of your mental discomfort if you’ve seen a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist since the occurrence. Fitness or sleep monitors are a relatively new source of evidence that may be convincing. 

These gadgets can gather data that demonstrates how your heart rate or sleeping habits may have changed following the stressful experience.

Whatever trustworthy evidence you have that supports your emotional distress claim should be offered in court. The regulations for what will be permitted differ from state to state or even judge to judge.

How To File A Lawsuit

How is someone’s anguish actionable? Bringing a claim for emotional harm entails the following steps:

  1. To support your claim, you must provide documentation of your discomfort, such as medical documents, employment records, personal journals, etc. You may even wear an electronic health tracker that keeps tabs on your sleep patterns and heart rate. It will be simpler to recover damages the better your documentation of your suffering is.
  1. Consult an attorney about: Talk about the situation with your lawyer. Your lawyer will examine your paperwork and assist you in getting ready for court.
  2. Bringing a lawsuit: You will bring a legal claim for emotional distress against the defendant with the assistance of your lawyer.
  1. Preparations for the trial: Following the service of the defendant, the discovery procedure will take place, during which the parties will share information. To avert a trial, the two parties may agree on a settlement offer. You should accept the settlement offer or not, according to your lawyer’s advice.
  1. Trial & Settlement: The courts will consider each party’s arguments and supporting evidence before reaching a conclusion.

Suing a person for emotional pain may be a difficult and drawn-out process. To improve your chances of collecting your losses, arm yourself with knowledge of the procedure and seek legal advice.

Evidence of Emotional Distress

Physical injuries: It may be quite simple to recognize physical injuries brought on by the occurrence. Emotional discomfort can manifest as ailments including migraines, ulcers, and cognitive decline.

Time: The longer you ha’e been in misery, the more persuasive your argument will be.

Medical reports: One of the main ways to show mental suffering is via a report from your doctor or psychologist. This is why it is crucial to get medical help as soon as the incident occurs.

The seriousness of the first occurrence: The likelihood that the courts may find emotional distress in a case is higher the more dramatic and upsetting the initial incident was.

Testimonies: The courts will take testimony into account when determining how the incident affected you. You can call witnesses from your friends, family, coworkers, or medical professionals.  

Is Filing a Lawsuit Tough?

Although you can file a lawsuit for mental anguish, the process might be challenging. In contrast to physical injuries, mental discomfort may not always show obvious symptoms to the untrained eye. This makes recording your trauma even more important.

You must also make sure that the testimony of others and your own is consistent. It may be necessary to spend a significant amount of time and money calling in expert witnesses to testify about your illness. Legal sleuthing may be required to prove that carelessness or intentionality contributed to the harm you experienced.


As you can see, it is conceivable to sue for mental anguish, but doing so involves negotiating a challenging legal framework. This is why it is crucial that you speak with a personal injury lawyer so they can evaluate the merits of your claim and provide you with the best choices.


Personal injury in Baltimore

Reasons a Judge Will Change Custody Order: Top 7+ Picks

Is Battery A Felony? Charges, Penalties, and Defence

Can I sue an insurance company?

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eighteen + 11 =