Can You Make an Emotional Distress Claim?

July 17, 2022

When you go through a physical injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, it’s fairly common to sue for personal injury. That being said, not everyone takes into consideration the other part of these incidents – meaning, the emotional damage.

Unlike physical damage, emotional damage is not that easy to quantify. However, its impact is as real as it can get. So, can you sue? And if you can, what is the process for making an emotional distress claim? Read on, and you will find out.

What Is Emotional Distress?

Before you even think about suing, you need to learn exactly what emotional distress is under the eyes of the law. To put it simply, emotional distress is a kind of mental suffering or anguish resulting from an incident, be it through negligence or through distress.

The Court of Georgia as well as other courts will recognize emotional distress as a kind of damage. Therefore, if you are in Augusta, Georgia, and you decide to sue, an Augusta personal injury attorney should be able to help you with this “branch” of injury as well.

Most emotional distress claims will need you to have some sort of physical injury alongside the emotional damage. That being said, recent cases allowed people to sue for emotional damage even without proof of injury.

This can include people that went through psychological trauma as a result of sexual abuse, or even defamation. The infamous defamation lawsuit of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard stands as such an example, with emotional damage being part of the lawsuit.

Types of Emotional Distress Claims

There are two types of emotional distress claims, both of which must be discussed with your attorney. Documentation is necessary, as well as proof (be it medical records or notes from your therapist), and once you gather that, you can file for the following:

1. Negligent Emotional Distress Infliction

As suggested, this type of emotional distress occurs as a result of negligence. The defendant may not have intentionally wanted to cause harm, but they did so anyway. For example, when Mariah Carrey wrote her memoir, she was sued by her older brother on grounds of defamation. The memoir depicted him as a violent person, which caused emotional distress.

Keep in mind that suing for emotional distress is not just for those that were harmed – but for those in the danger zone as well. For example, if a parent walks with their child on the sidewalk, and a drunk driver loses control and kills the child, the parent can sue for emotional distress. This type of damage is perceived as traumatic, even if the parent was not technically injured.

2. Intentional Emotional Distress Infliction

This claim happens when the defendant recklessly or intentionally inflicts emotional damage upon another person. For example, while name-calling on its own cannot cover the grounds of an emotional distress claim, constant verbal attacks and torment can be used in this case.

What Can Be Used to Prove Emotional Distress?

Like in any other court case, you need to bring evidence if you want to sue for emotional distress. Here is what can be used as proof in order to potentially win your emotional distress claim:

1. Physical Injuries

Some injuries are often a direct result of emotional distress. For instance, injuries such as ulcers, headaches, and cognitive impairment can all be suggestive of emotional distress.

2. Time

The more time you’ve been going through emotional distress, the more credible your case may become. For instance, a person wrongfully accused of a crime and taken from one court hearing to another can sue the person accusing them of intentional emotional distress.

3. Medical Reports

A report from your doctor or your therapist can also help prove your emotional distress. For instance, if you begin seeing a psychologist after the incident and you still cannot shake off the distress, the doctor’s report should be able to prove that.

4. Testimonies

Testimonies can also be used to determine exactly how the incident affected your life. For instance, if you’ve been experiencing emotional distress due to your spouse’s struggle with alcoholism and potential violence, then testimonies from friends and neighbors can be used to prove your point.

The Bottom Line

Proving emotional distress can be a tricky process. To the average person, the symptoms may not even be visible – and only you may know what’s going on in your mind. However, with a good lawyer, you should be able to prove emotional distress and win your case.


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