top of page

Is Emotional Distress Considered a Personal Injury?

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Young Adult Facing Emotional Distress

Personal injury claims can go beyond property damage and physical injuries. Emotional distress is another type of damage that may be evaluated within your claim.

Can emotional distress be considered a personal injury? In short, yes. The long answer, however, can be a little more complicated. Emotional damages can be caused by the stress from the accident, or mental anguish caused by the changes in a victim’s life from the physical injuries. In this article, we will cover what you need to know about emotional distress, how it impacts personal injury cases, and how you can seek compensation.

What Is Emotional Distress?

Within personal injury law, emotional distress can be defined as any non-physical damage incurred from your accident or injury. Emotional distress is a subjective type of harm and can differ from person to person—it can be specific or general. Some types of emotional distress include depression, anxiety, fear, insomnia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) and other psychological issues.

When Is Emotional Distress Considered a Personal Injury?

With Physical Injury

In most personal injury cases, emotional distress compensation accompanies the legal damages claimed with a physical injury due to the stress and anguish caused by both the accident and the injuries.

Without Physical Injury

Emotional damage alone is typically difficult to claim without a related physical injury. The law does provide for such damages under certain circumstances, such as an injury to a close relative.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

While an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is not as common as a claim for emotional distress damages, it can be filed as a separate claim during a personal injury lawsuit. This claim will require proof that the defendant was either grossly negligent or intended to cause emotional or mental harm.

How Can You Prove Emotional Distress in Court?

Emotional distress is almost entirely psychological (except for physical harm caused by emotional suffering). This makes it more difficult to prove in court since, unlike physical damages, it cannot be seen. Some ways to prove emotional distress include:

  • an evaluation from a mental health professional,

  • testimony from loved ones,

  • first-hand accounts from the victim (such as from a journal, diary, and other ways to record your life and feelings).

The monetary amount to be claimed for emotional distress damages varies depending on your particular case and circumstances. This makes it all the more important to communicate to your doctor and loved ones about your psychological symptoms, as well as to keep detailed records for evidence.

How Much Compensation Can You Receive for Emotional Distress?

As mentioned before, the compensation for emotional distress varies depending on the situation. Some factors that can affect your compensation are:

  • Evidence: The amount of evidence you have to showcase the severity of your emotional distress may influence your compensation amount.

  • The severity of injuries: You are more likely to receive a higher emotional damage award if you suffered a long-term or complex physical injury due to the accident.

  • Your personal injury lawyer: The caliber and expertise of the attorney representing you can play a huge role in ensuring that you receive fair compensation.

Hiring an attorney who is highly experienced in personal injury litigation will help alleviate your stress and tension by guiding you each step of the way and explaining in detail everything that needs to be done during your personal injury case. At Hirsch Andrade, LLP we know that accidents can be both physically and emotionally devastating. We are here to help. If you or a loved one has been injured in an incident due to someone else’s negligence, contact us at 203-331-8888.


Recent Posts

See All

Six Signs of Potential Medical Malpractice

It can be difficult to know whether you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice.  While it is always best to consult an experienced attorney if you believe you or a loved one has bee


bottom of page