Can You File a Lawsuit for Emotional Distress from an Injury?

Emotional Distress LawsuitWhen a person is hurt, we typically only think about the physical pain they suffer. However, mental and emotional distress is a common effect that can severely alter a person’s life for years following an accident.

Usually, emotional pain and suffering is caused by a physical injury or accident. If this is the case, you may have a strong chance of seeking compensation through a personal injury lawsuit in a Seattle court.

What are examples of emotional distress?

Emotional distress is usually considered a mental harm that falls under pain and suffering damages in a personal injury claim. Pain and suffering damages are non-economic damages, which means that they do not have a specific economic value readily determinable. However, they can significantly affect a person’s life, potentially accumulating expenses from counseling or psychological testing, prescription medications, and more. Here are a few different examples of emotional distress damages:

  • Mental anguish
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Humiliation
  • Disability or disfigurements
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of reputation
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities
  • Embarrassment or shame
  • Psychological trauma
  • Cognitive changes
  • Intense anger
  • Mood swings
  • Fear and paranoia
  • Depression or anxiety

Do you have to have a physical injury to file a claim for emotional distress in Seattle?

Technically, no: you can file a claim for “intentional infliction of emotional distress” in Washington State. These cases are rare, but they are possible.

Generally, however, it is people who have sustained physical injuries who seek damages for emotional distress as part of their overall claim or lawsuit. If you are unsure of the best way to proceed, contact a Seattle personal injury attorney to find out what legal options are available to you.

What types of catastrophic injuries can cause emotional distress?

Washington recognizes that emotional distress is a very real problem after a catastrophic injury or accident. Serious injuries that might allow you to seek damages for your mental and emotional losses could include:

When an individual suffers a catastrophic injury, they may never make a full recovery or gain the same level of function or mobility they had before the accident. They might spend the rest of their lives getting surgeries, receiving medical treatment, and needing a caregiver to assist them with daily tasks. This takes an emotional toll on the victim, which can lead to long-term emotional and psychological distress.

Can you collect emotional distress damages from sexual abuse?

Individuals who have been sexually abused or assaulted will often experience severe emotional distress. This can include rape, sexual battery, molestation, sexual harassment, and more. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), some of the mental and emotional effects that may arise from sexual abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Substance abuse
  • Dissociation
  • Panic attacks
  • Sleep disorders
  • Suicide attempts

Remember that every person reacts to emotional distress differently. Some people who experience emotional distress from sexual abuse may encounter persistent mental and emotional effects that keep them from carrying out their daily duties, while others may not even realize the effects until something triggers their symptoms. It is also not uncommon for victims of sexual abuse to develop chronic illnesses and health issues, such as heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, and stroke.

Is it difficult to sue for emotional distress?

It can be difficult to determine damages for emotional distress, often because emotional distress does not include a specific monetary value. You must be able to show how your emotional distress caused you to suffer damages, like lost ability to work or quality of life. Hiring an experienced emotional distress lawyer in Seattle can increase your chances of successfully collecting damages for emotional distress.

How do you prove emotional distress?

Documentation is essential to proving emotional distress. The following are five ways you and your attorney can use documentation to show you suffered emotional distress due to an injury or accident:

  1. Medical records: If you visited a doctor or healthcare provider due to your emotional state, you could provide medical records that show this.
  2. Psychologist or counselor reports: Attending counseling or therapy appointments is a major part of healing and recovery from emotional distress. It’s helpful to show proof you are attending appointments and receiving help from a licensed therapist.
  3. Witness statements: Your family members, friends, or caregivers could provide statements to the court about your mental and emotional conditions.
  4. Journals or diaries: Writing in a journal or diary about your mental and emotional state is extremely helpful. Write about how you feel, any changes you notice, and how your feelings affect you every day. This can give the judge or jury an accurate portrayal of the mental and emotional consequences you have faced.
  5. Proof of missed work or activities you used to enjoy: Another beneficial way to prove emotional distress is by showing you miss work or activities you once enjoyed. This could be sport practices, game nights, cookouts, community gardening events, or more.

If you suffered a mental or emotional injury caused by another person in Washington, the Seattle injury attorneys at Smith McBroom are here to help. We know you are going through a difficult time, which is why we are dedicated to making the legal process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Call our Tukwila office or submit our contact form to schedule a free case review, and we can show you what options may be available.