Suing for Emotional Distress

Suing for Emotional Distress

Many among us have experienced some sort of severe accident which sometimes causes severe emotional distress. Delving deep into the legal landscape of suing for emotional distress might be intimidating but proving emotional distress claim might be much harder than that.

In this article, we will write down on how can you sue for emotional distress? We will be explaining the proper way if you want to sue someone for emotional distress. Keep reading to know more about the process of suing someone for emotional distress.

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress means the psychological or mental suffering experienced by an individual due to extreme and outrageous conduct or traumatic actions, events. In simple words, it’s a mental anguish, emotional anguish or mental suffering.

However, the legal definition may vary in the US with different state laws dealing with emotional distress. However, they usually include following: -

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Let’s take a car accident as an example as follows: -

  • People have the right to drive legally under a license, and safely on public roads.
  • Negligence may arise due to breach of duty when the driver does not behave reasonably.
  • The breach of duty causes harm. This is where the emotional distress arises.
  • The damages caused by the harm can be compensated by the law considering mental sufferings.

Is it necessary to have Injury for suing for emotional distress?

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Proof is always an issue during the court of law while different states have different laws regarding emotional distress. However, the most common question in such circumstances is “Can I sue someone for emotional distress?

Yes, you can sue for emotional distress. Experiencing a serious accident can not only cause physical injury but emotional sufferings as well.

Suggested Reading:How to Get Eviction off Your Record

Can You Sue Someone For Emotional Distress?

Yes, you can sue someone for emotional distress including your family members but there is some criteria to qualify to suit for emotional distress.

Types of Emotional Distress claims

There are several emotional distress claims that an individual can pursue on the basis of given circumstances: -

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Examples of Emotional Distress Damages: -

Emotional distress is not just a state, it can vary widely and therefore can affect each person differently. Here are few examples: -

  1. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  2. Anxiety and Panic Attacks due to Emotional Distress
  3. Emotional Distress can lead to Depression
  4. Humiliation and Embarrassment
  5. Grief and Bereavement
  6. Emotional Distress due to Discrimination or Harassment
  7. Rejection and Betrayal
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How Can You Prove Emotional Distress in court?

Claiming that I have been distressed emotionally due to other`s action is easy but proving it in the court of law is entirely a different story. It requires presenting compelling evidence that shows existence and impact of the distress experienced.

Evidence is a major factor in knowing whether or not you can sue someone for emotional distress. We have listed examples of evidence that could be useful for your claim: -

Physical injuries: The incident that cause physical injury followed by emotional harm can be relatively easy to identify.

Time: The longer you have been experiencing distress, the more credible your case is.

Medical reports: a report from your medical doctor or psychologist as a medical evidence is a major factor in demonstrating emotional distress.

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The severity of the initial incident: The more extreme and disturbing the initial incident is, the more likely the court will rule for emotional distress.

Testimonies: The court will also depend on the testimonies in this regard.

Photographs and visuals: You can also collect photographs and visuals as evidence of the incidence and visible manifestation of trauma.

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How to File an Emotional Distress Lawsuit?

It is important to consider that each state in the United States has its own laws and its limitations; therefore filling patterns of emotional distress lawsuits also differ. Keep this in mind before filing a lawsuit. You can get recommendations from family, friends, or other connections to find a lawyer.

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If you already have an emotional distress lawyer for other purposes, such as a tax attorney, you can consider asking for a recommendation from them.

Document Your Emotional Distress

The first step is to document your stress including any physical symptoms. If you have any physical symptoms due to emotional pain or emotional harm causing one to get physically harmed, don’t forget to document it because any physical manifestation.

Discuss with an Attorney

Once you have collected all these evidences, you should meet with your attorney. Discuss the claim with your attorney. Your attorney can also help you in gathering more evidence and prepare for trial.

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Pre-Trial Preparations

The next step is to file the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. As soon as the case is filed against the defendants’ action, the defendant is served and the trial preparation period starts.

Trials and Settlements

The court will fix a date to start the trial. In the courtroom your attorney will demonstrate evidence to support your claim and also attempts to undermine any defenses offered by the other side.

As both parties end their trials and have rested their last remarks. The court will reach to verdict. However, at any time there might be a settlement offer in place.

Examples of Emotional Distress Lawsuit

There could be various reasons for emotional distress. Pain and suffering after a car accident isn’t the sole type of loss many people have experienced. Several emotional distress may result into an inability to enjoy a high quality of life, work, or meet other responsibilities.

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In this section, let’s share some examples to help you knowing more emotional distress lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice

Emotional distress can be caused due to medical malpractice. A physician might instigate emotional harm when he engages in treatments or procedures that may not be appropriate for the situation.

Witnessing a wrongful death

Seeking emotional distress claims can also be applicable during situations of wrongful death when you have watched a loved one die due to the intent of someone else.

Wrongful arrest

You may also suffer emotional distress after you have been arrested wrongfully. Some people are more sensitive who couldn’t cope with the ongoing situations.

Emotional Distress Cases Won

In this section, we are going to discuss emotional distress cases won in the United States:

$247,500 settlement (New Jersey, 2023): A 3-year old girl was hit and killed by the defendant’s vehicle. The family sued the driver for emotional distress caused and emotional distress suffered by witnessing the violent death of the little girl.

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$2,417,523 Verdict (Oregon, 2023): This case is about employment discrimination in which a couple of plaintiffs reported the violations of state and federal laws committed by the Oregon Department of Corrections. The plaintiffs claimed emotional distress and the verdict of the case included 1.6 million dollars for economic damages and $850,000 for emotional distress.

$3,500,000 Verdict (Virginia 2023): A 54-year old female who was driving on the highway when a truck tried to overtake her vehicle. The female suffered multiple injuries. The verdict of this case included a significant amount for the compensation of emotional distress.

$37,925 Verdict (California 2017): A woman sued her ex-boyfriend because her ex-boyfriend allegedly shared her exclusive pictures and private videos on the internet after they broke up. In this case, the verdict included a heavy compensation for the emotional distress.

How are Emotional Distress Damages Calculated?

It is established fact that you can sue someone if that person has caused an emotional distress. With that being said, in most of the cases it becomes difficult to prove emotional injuries or emotional sufferings.

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Therefore, different states have different laws to deal with such cases. Resultantly, it becomes difficult to calculate the damages due to emotional distress. We have researched about different states on how they calculate emotional distress damages.

Calculating the damages caused by emotional distress can be a complex process because there is no single formula which provides guidelines for determining the amount.

Can You Sue a Family Member for Emotional Distress?

Sometimes, a family rift turns into repetitive behaviors and actions that lead to emotional distress. Under the US law, individuals suffering from emotional distress have the right to seek compensation if their mental health and physical well-being has been compromised by inflicting physical injury and also to recover the expenses paid to mental health professionals.

You can sue a family member if that person is causing you emotional distress. If a person is seeking to move ahead with their life from previous partner due to the torments and stress the partner is causing.

Can You Sue For Emotional Distress at Work?

There have been numerous cases that fellow woman was mistreated at office. There has been considerable increase in cases where the owner harasses their female or male employee.

There are laws in different states which deals with common emotional distress claim differently. In most of these states you have the opportunity to file a lawsuit against your co-worker if he us causing you emotional distress.

Suing for Emotional Distress in Florida

Each state has its own laws and regulations regarding emotional distress claims. In Florida, mental pain or mental stress is a type of non economic damages that can be awarded under a personal injury law in a personal injury claim and personal injury cases.

If you are in Florida then you must qualify four requirements to bring a cause of action for mental distress provided these four elements co-exist (i) the intentional or reckless infliction of mental anguish; (ii) outrageous conduct; (iii) a causal link between the conduct and the emotional distress; (iv) causing some level of emotional distress.


Many wonder whether they have the right to sue someone for emotional distress. Yes, you can sue someone for emotional distress. However, suing for emotional distress is a complex legal matter that requires as much evidence and a clear demonstration of the impact on your well-being.

In this article, we have explored what is emotional distress and what are the different types and examples of emotional distress. We have also noted down on how you can gather evidences such as medical treatment, medical reports, medical records or counseling reports.

Since emotional distress is a subjective matter thus making it difficult to obtain hard evidence in support of your legal claim. You can sue even your family member for emotional distress.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered emotional distress?

Emotional distress means the psychological or mental suffering experienced by an individual due to extreme or physical traumatic event, traumatic actions, events, or circumstances. It includes fear, anxiety, grief, humiliation, and even shock.

What evidence do you need for emotional distress?

In the court of law you will have to provide reports of medical health experts to substantiate your legal claim, testimonies in the court to strengthen the case. You can also produce other evidences such as emails, or texts.

What are 3 warning signs of emotional distress?

There could be multiple signs on one who suffered severe emotional distress but the most prominent ones are hurt feelings or sadness over a prolonged period, fear, anxiety, loss of interest in daily activities, or difficult in eating.

Is suing for emotional distress worth it?

Suffered physical harm or physical injuries might be easy to cope with but the emotional stress is unbearable for most of the people. Thus, you have a right to life and you have a right to sue someone for severe emotional distress.

Can you sue someone for giving you emotional trauma?

Yes, in the USA, you can sue someone for emotional trauma, but the case must meet specific legal criteria and prove damages.

Alice Barrett

Dedicated legal blogger unraveling complexities, simplifying legal jargon, and offering insights on crucial issues, empowering readers with legal knowledge.

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