Can you claim emotional distress as a personal injury?


In personal injury cases, you can seek emotional distress damages. The emotional distress damages you can claim, however, depend on whether you, yourself, are the injured party or whether you are claiming emotional damages due to the physical injury to your family member.

Emotional Damages for You, the Injured Party

When you are injured, you have multiple possible avenues for claiming emotional damages, including:

Pain and Suffering.  This damage category includes the physical discomfort, mental anxiety, emotional distress, and inconvenience that you’ve suffered  – and will continue to suffer – as a result of your injury.

Embarrassment and humiliation. This refers to any feelings of shame, inferiority, humiliation, or inadequacy that you feel and will continue to feel as a result of your injury. 

Disfigurement. This damage category includes scarring, deformity, limp, or another observable defect that you suffer – and might continue to suffer – as a result of your injury. 

Loss of ability to enjoy life’s pleasures. This refers to the past and future loss of your ability to participate in hobbies, games, sports, or other activity, that you previously enjoyed. The activities don’t have to be physical, like biking or rock-climbing. Activities could include chess or reading. If you can no longer do those activities due to your injury, you can claim emotional distress as the result of having to discontinue them.

Emotional Damages for You as a Family Member of the Injured Party

When it is not you who was personally physically injured, but your family member, you can still make a claim for emotional damages. The courts call these damages Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Damages and in order to prove this, you need to establish that the defendant’s negligence caused your loved one to suffer a physical injury and you have suffered emotional distress as a result. There are different types of liability that would lead to this level of compensation, including:

Zone of Danger Liability. You could recover damages if you were near the point of impact. For example, if you were in the car with your wife during the accident in which your wife was injured, you were within the zone of danger and would likely have a successful claim for emotional distress.

Bystander Liability. If you witnessed the physical harm caused to your loved one, you are considered a bystander. For example, if you were in the room when a nurse administered the wrong medicine to your child, causing your child to suffer serious immediate injuries, you were a bystander and could collect compensation for your emotional distress.

If you or your loved one suffered a personal injury, it’s important to work with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can help you collect the appropriate damages. Contact the experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at VSCP Law.

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