Under What Circumstances Can You Sue For Emotional Distress?
Accidents and injuries can leave a person in physical pain, spending months or even years recovering. But those injuries are not always on the outside, and they can't always be seen with an X-ray or MRI scan. Sometimes, accidents can cause emotional trauma that leads to prolonged suffering. If you've recently been injured, and you feel as though you've been affected psychologically, what can you do? Here are the circumstances under which you can generally seek compensation.
If your injuries were the result of negligent behavior that has led to emotional anguish, you may be able to hold the negligent party accountable. For example, suppose you're struck by a car as you're crossing the street. After recovering from your injuries, you can't step foot on a public road without having a panic attack. Although the negligent driver didn't intentionally hit you, you can still file a claim for emotional distress.
While unfortunate, there are situations in which people's behavior is seen as "extremely outrageous," resulting in severe emotional distress. These cases usually involve employers that request an employee to do something that is:
- Beyond what's considered acceptable
- Known to cause a normal person emotional trauma
- Results in extreme emotional distress
The key here is that your employer must have intended emotional harm or should have known that it could happen as a result of the behavior.
Whether the behavior was intentional or negligent, certain psychological symptoms must be present in order to claim emotional distress. These can include but are not limited to anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, weight loss, angry outbursts, and isolating yourself on a frequent basis. When you speak with an attorney, they will generally look at some or all of the following to determine if you have a case:
- Intensity of symptoms. The more intense your symptoms are, the more likely you are to have a solid case. For instance, do you have nightmares five nights a week, keeping you awake for hours, or do they only occur once a month?
- Duration. The longer you've been having symptoms, the easier it will be to prove emotional distress.
- Physical manifestations. If you have physical signs of psychological trauma--like headaches, upset stomach, or ulcers--that will definitely help your case.
- The extremity of the event. The more extreme the accident, the more likely the courts will find in your favor. For example, the circumstances under which a mass shooting survivor would be suffering from PTSD is clearer than someone who was involved in a fender bender.
- Doctor testimony. In most cases, you'll need a note from a psychologist or doctor, or they should be willing to testify on your behalf regarding symptoms and treatment.
To learn more, contact a law firm like Campbell, Dille, Barnett & Smith, P.L.L.C.