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Understanding Emotional Compesation

By Aghabegian Law Group, P.C. on October 14, 2021

Many people are aware that after suffering an injury at the hands of someone else, they can sue that person for the physical harm they’ve caused. However, far fewer people know that they have the right to sue another person not only for physical injury but for emotional suffering as well. In contrast to physical injuries, emotional trauma can be difficult to quantify, but that doesn’t mean that its impacts aren’t significant or that it can’t be sued for.

In law, emotional distress is a type of mental suffering brought on by an incident caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional act. American courts recognize emotional distress as a valid type of damages that claimants can seek to recover, similar to physical harm. This means that just as you can sue someone for physical injury, you can also sue someone for emotional distress if you have the necessary evidence to back up your claim. While most emotional distress claims are filed alongside physical injury claims, there are examples of cases where victims seek to recover emotional distress damages without evidence of physical injury. Below, we will delve into all there is to know about claiming emotional distress in a personal injury case, including the evidence needed to support your claim and the compensation you can recover.

When to Sue for Personal Injury

If you were injured in an incident caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional act of another, then you have the right to sue for personal injury. Although car accidents, dog bites, and slip and fall accidents are among the most common incidents that prompt personal injury lawsuits, claimants can sue for any type of incident that led to their injury. However, it’s important to note that the burden of proof (being able to prove fault and damages) is on the claimant, so before filing a personal injury lawsuit, be sure you have the evidence to prove that the defendant acted negligently and that you were injured, physically and/or emotionally because of it. Key pieces of evidence in personal injury lawsuits include medical bills, police reports, eyewitness statements, personal testimony, photos and videos of the scene, incident reports, and documentation showing missed time at work. If you have the necessary evidence to back up your claim and you were seriously injured (meaning your injury took more than a couple of doctor’s visits to be treated), then you likely have a strong case on your hands. 

One other factor that comes into play when deciding to sue for personal injury is timing. Each state has its own statute of limitations on personal injury claims, meaning that depending on the specific laws of the state in which you reside, you only have a set amount of time to file a lawsuit from the date of the accident. In California, injured parties have two years to file a claim (or three if the incident involved property damage). Additionally, if the incident involved a government employee or vehicle, the victim usually has even less time to file (in California, it’s just six months). As the laws surrounding personal injury claims can be complicated, we strongly advise all injured parties to seek the help of a skilled personal injury attorney who can provide their professional opinion on your case and represent you in negotiations and court, should it come to that.

Is Emotional Distress a Personal Injury?

There is no denying the profound impact emotional distress can have on a person. Whether induced by a physical injury or not, psychological injuries can take a serious toll on one’s quality of life. From a legal point of view, emotional distress is classified as a personal injury. When filed as part of a personal injury claim where physical injury was also caused, emotional distress is referred to as pain and suffering and is a type of general (non-monetary) damages. However, emotional distress can also be considered a claim in its own right, without needing to prove physical injury. Generally speaking, emotional distress cases are more difficult to prove than personal injury cases as the lawsuit relies solely on proving your emotional suffering, which is harder to quantify than physical harm. This is why working with a personal injury attorney, one with experience handling emotional distress cases, can give you a huge advantage. Proving emotional distress typically involves an evaluation of your psychological injuries, as well as personal testimony and testimony from friends or family members who have been around you since the incident. Common types of emotional distress include but are not limited to depression, anxiety, insomnia, fear, shame, and humiliation. 

Compensation for Emotional Distress

The compensation you receive in your emotional distress lawsuit is influenced by a variety of factors. For example, the type of claim you file plays a role. There are two types of emotional distress claims. The first is when the emotional distress was caused by someone else’s negligence, i.e. when the defendant commits an act that unintentionally causes you emotional harm. The second is when the emotional distress was inflicted intentionally by the defendant, such as verbally attacking someone. The severity of your emotional distress also impacts the amount you are likely to recover in damages, as does the evidence you’ve gathered. The stronger your evidence, the greater chance you have at receiving compensation. You’ll want to have evidence supporting the fact that your emotional distress is ongoing, that it didn’t begin until after the incident, and that it directly relates to the physical harm caused by the incident (if applicable).


If you’re suffering from emotional distress following an incident, whether the incident also included physical injury or not, you may have a strong personal injury case on your hands. With a skilled personal injury attorney by your side, we can help you fight for your rights and receive the compensation you deserve. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and a good attorney will do everything in their power to recover damages relating to both your physical and emotional injuries. Whether you’re suffering from loss of enjoyment, mental anguish, or a reduced quality of life, we want to help you get back on your feet. AAESQ Law operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t pay a dime unless we win your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in California.  

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