Is Emotional Distress a Personal Injury?

A person reassuring another person after emotional distress caused them a personal injury.
A person reassuring another person after emotional distress caused them a personal injury.

Is Emotional Distress a Personal Injury?

When it comes to personal injury, we often think about visible, physical injuries first. However, the emotional distress that comes with these injuries is a significant part of the victim’s journey and deserves attention. Emotional distress can have long-lasting effects on a person’s life. In fact, emotional distress is a personal injury in itself and can significantly impact a victim’s quality of life. This blog will guide you through understanding emotional distress in the context of personal injury law, its impact, and legal recourse.

Schmitt Law Firm is a personal injury firm dedicated to fighting for people who have been injured by another’s negligence. When you’re facing significant loss, our attorneys fight for your rights and get you the compensation you need to recover. Talk to our experienced attorneys today and get the justice you deserve.

Defining Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Claim

Emotional distress refers to a highly unpleasant emotional reaction (such as anguish, humiliation, or fright) resulting from another’s conduct. Emotional distress is a personal injury that occurs when an event causes psychological harm. It is an intangible condition that includes symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, and more.

Unlike physical injuries, emotional distress isn’t always apparent immediately. It often manifests over time, and the symptoms may not be as obvious as a physical injury. Individuals may experience mood changes, social withdrawal, or disturbances in sleep or appetite, among other symptoms. All these symptoms underline the fact that emotional distress is a personal injury that can be as debilitating as any physical harm.

[Related: Understanding the Personal Injury Lawsuit Process in Missouri]

Types of Emotional Distress in Personal Injury Law

Lawyer consoling client after emotional distress caused a personal injury.

In personal injury law, two primary types of emotional distress exist: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED).

IIED occurs when an individual deliberately causes severe emotional distress to another. For instance, if someone threatens a person’s life, knowing it would cause severe emotional harm, they could be liable for IIED.

NIED, on the other hand, occurs when a person’s negligent behavior causes emotional distress. For example, if a car driver negligently causes an accident that results in not only physical harm but also significant emotional trauma to the victim, the driver may be liable for NIED.

Causes of Emotional Distress

Various incidents can lead to emotional distress in personal injury cases. This distress can stem from various accidents, including car accidents, slip and fall accidents, or medical malpractice. The traumatic nature of these incidents can lead to significant mental health impacts, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.

Moreover, it’s important to remember that the cause of emotional distress doesn’t have to be a physical injury. The distress can also result from witnessing a traumatic event, experiencing a near-death experience, or suffering from a severe threat or intimidation. These scenarios reinforce the notion that emotional distress is a personal injury that can arise from different situations, not just physical harm.

Related: How to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit: A Comprehensive Guide]

The Impact of Emotional Distress

The implications of emotional distress can be severe, affecting every aspect of a person’s life. It can lead to physical issues, such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, and even changes in appetite. Psychologically, individuals may experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD

This distress can disrupt work, strain relationships, and diminish the overall quality of life. Recent research indicates that if left untreated, the long-term effects of emotional distress can be damaging and persist for years after the incident.

Furthermore, the impact of emotional distress can often be more long-lasting and debilitating than physical injuries. For example, a person might recover from a broken bone within a few months, but the emotional trauma from the accident that caused the break could last for years. This is another aspect that highlights how emotional distress is a personal injury that profoundly affects a victim’s life.

Legal Elements of Emotional Distress Claims

Claiming emotional distress isn’t as straightforward as physical injury claims. The person claiming emotional distress must meet certain legal criteria, such as the “reasonable person standard” and “serious emotional distress.” A reasonable person standard suggests that emotional distress would likely affect any reasonable person under similar circumstances, while serious emotional distress implies the victim’s suffering is not minor or transient but of a severe or enduring nature.

With years of experience in personal injury law, including emotional distress claims, Schmitt Law Firm understands the intricacies and is committed to fighting for victims’ rights. We also provide compassionate support for our clients in their journey toward recovery. At Schmitt Law Firm, we believe that emotional distress is a personal injury that demands serious attention, and we are committed to protecting your rights and ensuring you get the justice you deserve. Contact us at 816-400-1000 for a free consultation about your personal injury.

Proving Emotional Distress in Court

A stack of old books.

Proving emotional distress can be challenging, given its intangible nature. However, medical records, therapy records, and witness testimonies can provide crucial evidence. Expert witnesses, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, can also provide professional opinions about the plaintiff’s emotional distress and its impact on their life.

Additionally, personal diaries or journals that record a person’s feelings and thoughts can be beneficial in proving emotional distress in court. Such first-person accounts can offer powerful insights into the person’s emotional state and illustrate how the distress has affected their daily life. It’s important to remember that emotional distress is a personal injury that requires substantial evidence to support a legal claim. If you’re trying to prove emotional distress in a personal injury claim, contact Schmitt Law Firm today. Our experts are ready to help you.

Compensations for Emotional Distress In a Personal Injury Case

The compensation for emotional distress depends on several factors, such as the severity of distress, the impact on the victim’s life, and any long-term consequences. Various case studies have shown substantial compensation awarded to victims who successfully demonstrated their emotional distress claim.

Seeking Legal Help for Emotional Distress Claims

Given the complexity of emotional distress claims, working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is vital. A knowledgeable lawyer can help guide you through the process, build a strong case, and represent you effectively in court. They can ensure you understand your rights and work tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve.

Emotional distress is a personal injury; like all injuries, it demands attention and treatment. If you’re a victim of personal injury and have experienced emotional distress, it’s essential to consult with a legal professional. At Schmitt Law Firm, we’re here to assist you throughout your journey to recovery and justice. We believe in recognizing and addressing emotional distress, and we’ll fight for the compensation you rightfully deserve. Call 816-400-1000 to talk to an experienced attorney today.


The material presented in this website is not intended as legal counsel. It is provided solely for informational purposes and should not be applied to particular circumstances. Utilizing this website does not establish or imply an attorney-client relationship between Schmitt Law Firm and the site's users. For personalized legal guidance, we encourage you to consult with a qualified attorney.

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