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Emotional Distress as a Personal Injury

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Posted On 02.13.15 by in Blog

personal injury law

When you hear of a personal injury, you probably think of something physical. Perhaps you imagine someone slipping on an icy driveway. Even something like a dog bite could result in a personal injury lawsuit. Another common example would be a car accident. What you might not expect, though, is that personal injury lawsuits can also be filed for emotional distress.

Emotional Distress and Physical Injuries

In the past, emotional distress could play a role in a personal injury case, but wasn’t a significant enough reason for damages to be awarded. Instead, emotional distress was cited alongside injuries a person suffered as a reason for the court to rule in their favor. However, more and more, emotional distress has been sufficient as a reason for a plaintiff to win a personal injury case. Courts in California and New York have already recognized as much.

Sexual harassment claims are a good example of where emotional distress may have been the only harmful result, for example. Libel and slander are two other illustrations of emotional distress being enough for a suit. That being said, there are limits. Breach of contract is a good enough reason to take someone to court, but it won’t result in a personal injury case because of emotional distress. The same is true for other business dealings.

Evidentiary Issues

Obviously, there are going to be some major evidentiary issues with trying to sue another for the emotional distress you allege they’ve caused you. With physical injuries, the court isn’t expected to just take someone’s word for it. There are usually physical signs that can be observed, x-rays, medical tests, and/or doctors who can testify that a personal injury lawsuit is justified. With emotional distress, some type of therapist is almost always going to be necessary as an expert witness in order win the case, much less put a dollar amount on how much is owed. Otherwise, emotional distress is seen as being too easy to feign or exaggerate.

Filing a Claim Because of Emotional Distress

While suing for personal injury because of emotional distress may be an uphill climb, it’s far from impossible. The first thing you should do if you believe you’ve been victimized is begin documenting the distress you’re experiencing. Common symptoms include:

• Depression
• Sleeplessness
• Crying
• Fright
• Humiliation

There is no agree -upon list of what constitutes emotional distress, but if you’re suffering psychological issues in relation to a specific event, it’s a good idea to document them and then see a therapist.

Seek Legal Representation

It’s absolutely essential that you see a therapist for your emotional needs. However, if you wish to sue because of the problems you’re facing, then you have to hire a lawyer as soon as possible.

At Ingerman and Horwitz, we know how to be sensitive to your fragile state, while still helping you to move forward with a personal injury case, if one is possible. Call us today at 1-800-776-4529 and take advantage of a free consultation.

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