Understanding Personal Injury Claims for Emotional Distress

As a personal injury attorney, I am often asked whether someone can file a claim for emotional distress. The short answer is yes, but it's important to understand the complexities of this type of claim and how it differs from physical injury claims.

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress, also known as mental anguish, is a type of psychological injury that can result from a traumatic event or ongoing stress. It can manifest in a variety of ways, including anxiety, depression, fear, and even physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches. Unlike physical injuries that are visible and quantifiable, emotional distress can be more difficult to prove. It often requires expert testimony and evidence to support the claim.

Types of Emotional Distress Claims

There are two main types of emotional distress claims: negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress:

This type of claim arises when someone's negligent actions cause emotional harm to another person.

For example, if a car accident caused by a reckless driver results in severe emotional distress for the victim.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress:

This type of claim involves intentional actions that cause severe emotional harm to another person. This can include things like bullying, harassment, or even physical assault.

Proving Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Claim

In order to successfully file a personal injury claim for emotional distress, you must be able to prove that the other party's actions directly caused your emotional distress. This can be challenging, as there is no physical evidence like there would be in a physical injury claim. One way to prove emotional distress is through medical records and expert testimony. A mental health professional can evaluate your condition and provide a diagnosis, as well as testify to the severity of your emotional distress and how it has impacted your life. It's also important to document any changes in your behavior or daily routine as a result of the emotional distress.

This can include things like difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, or avoiding certain activities that you used to enjoy.

Factors That Affect the Value of an Emotional Distress Claim

When determining the value of an emotional distress claim, there are several factors that are taken into consideration:
  • The severity of the emotional distress
  • The duration of the emotional distress
  • The impact on your daily life and relationships
  • Any pre-existing mental health conditions
  • The credibility of your testimony and evidence
It's important to note that there is no set formula for calculating the value of an emotional distress claim. Each case is unique and will be evaluated based on its own merits.

Statute of Limitations for Emotional Distress Claims

Just like with physical injury claims, there is a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim for emotional distress. This means that there is a specific time frame in which you must file your claim in order for it to be considered valid. In most states, the statute of limitations for emotional distress claims is two years from the date of the incident. However, this can vary depending on the state and the type of claim being filed.

It's important to consult with a personal injury attorney to ensure that you file within the appropriate time frame.

Seeking Legal Representation for an Emotional Distress Claim

If you believe you have a valid emotional distress claim, it's important to seek the help of a personal injury attorney. They can guide you through the legal process and help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim. It's also important to note that many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. This can provide peace of mind and allow you to focus on your recovery without worrying about legal fees.


In summary, emotional distress is a valid type of personal injury claim that can result from a variety of situations. However, it can be more challenging to prove than physical injuries, so it's important to seek the help of a personal injury attorney who has experience with these types of claims. Remember, if you have suffered emotional distress due to someone else's actions, you have the right to seek compensation for your pain and suffering.

Don't hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney for guidance and support.

Stewart Castelli
Stewart Castelli

Total music junkie. Proud pop culture nerd. Passionate twitter maven. Unapologetic pop culture lover. Freelance music evangelist. Hardcore internet advocate.

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