Emotional Distress

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Understanding Emotional Distress: What is Emotional Distress?

Defining Emotional Distress At its core, emotional distress refers to mental anguish. Legally, it gets intricate; the definition is generally mental pain instigated by someone else’s actions, whether intentional or accidental. Symptoms might include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic headaches … and several others.

A Practical Explanation: 

Take car accidents as an example. Every driver has a legal obligation to drive safely. If a driver neglects this duty, causing an accident, the victims might endure both physical and emotional damage. Assigning value to mental suffering is a crucial aspect of these cases.

Nature of Emotional Distress: It can occur even without a physical injury. Mental disorders like PTSD might arise post an accident without any physical harm.

Forms of Emotional Distress Claims:

  • Negligent Infliction: The distress is a result of negligence, like in car accidents. The victim must typically show some physical symptom due to the distress, though the requirements differ among states.
  • Bystander Lawsuit: This involves distress caused by witnessing harm to a close family member.
  • Intentional Infliction: This covers cases where there was a deliberate attempt to cause distress, like in severe harassment cases.

How to Prove Emotional Distress?

To claim emotional distress, evidence is key. The plaintiff must demonstrate:

  • Defendant’s breach of reasonable behavior.
  • This breach caused distress.
  • The distress led to demonstrable harm. 

What Evidence is used to Prove Emotional Distress?

Since emotional distress isn’t tangible, strong evidence is paramount. Therapy records, new medication prescriptions, or data from health trackers can corroborate a claim.

Initiating an Emotional Distress Lawsuit:

  • Documentation: Record all manifestations of your distress.
  • Consultation: Engage with a trustworthy attorney to evaluate the strength of your case.
  • Filing and Pre-Trial: Your lawyer will guide you through the process, from filing the claim to pre-trial preparations.
  • Trial and Settlement: This is where the evidence is presented and a verdict is reached. However, settlements can be negotiated at any stage.

Emotional distress, while challenging to quantify, is a legitimate claim when backed by compelling evidence and expert legal counsel.

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