Featured News 2018 Does Emotional Distress Qualify for Personal Injury?

Does Emotional Distress Qualify for Personal Injury?

Emotional Distress Caused by Physical Injury

When a claimant suffers from emotional distress linked to a physical injury, obtaining a positive outcome for the claim is much easier. For example, say a person is driving down the road and is hit by another car. They physically suffer a broken back and a contusion to the head, but they emotionally suffer from PTSD after the accident. They have flashbacks of the car as it comes toward them, and they suffer night terrors due to their memories. Additionally, they have a fear of driving due to the accident, which is inhibiting them from performing their daily routine. In this example, their emotional distress is caused by an incident that physically harmed them. This case should be cut-and-dry for the claimant.

Physical Injury Caused by Emotional Distress

When a claimant suffers from emotional distress that causes a physical injury, this can result in a successful claim. However, proving that emotional distress caused a person physical harm is much more difficult than proving that physical harm caused emotional distress.

For a claim to be successful, proving that emotional distress resulted in a physical injury requires two things:

  • The claimant must prove that an entity intentionally caused the emotional distress through behavior that was "extreme and outrageous."
  • The claimant must prove the actions caused emotional distress that resulted in physical injury.

The above requirements are difficult—but not impossible—to prove. Text messages, voicemails, or testimonials can be used as evidence that an entity was intentionally trying to cause a person emotional harm. The other piece of the puzzle is proving that emotional distress occurred and that the distress resulted in physical injury. For this portion of the evidence, doctor's notes that show an increase in blood pressure or other physical trauma that occurred can be used. In some cases, skin rashes or other disorders related to stress can be used to prove that an incident of emotional distress lead to physical injury.

As these cases are more subjective, hiring a trusted personal injury lawyer can be the difference between a failed or successful claim.

Emotional Distress That Does Not Result In Physical Injury

In narrow situations, a claimant can sue for purely emotional distress under a personal injury claim. In some states, residents are strictly forbidden from suing another person for emotional distress alone. These states claim that physical injury must occur for the claimant to have the right to sue. However, other states do allow for emotional distress lawsuits without no physical harm.

Examples of purely emotional distress lawsuits include:

  • Witnessing a catastrophic injury or fatality due to another's negligence
  • Missing an important event due to the negligence of another
  • Receiving incorrect medical information that leads to emotional distress

If you have any questions about whether your state holds entities liable for emotional distress as a personal injury, you should find and ask personal injury lawyer who practices in your area. A personal injury attorney in your area will know how emotional distress applies in your state, and they can determine if your situation calls for legal action.

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