Suing for Emotional Distress: Know Everything

Suing for Emotional Distress

Injuries after an accident show physical pain and suffering, not emotional distress. Also, a person can become stressed at the workplace due to the outrageous behavior of a co-worker.

No one can feel the suffering that the distressed person is going through as there no outward evidence. But, there is a chance. By suing for emotional distress, you can collect full compensation for your losses.

Mental trauma creates different symptoms that vary from person to person. Even depressed people may have suicidal thoughts because of the situation they are going through. Mental damages are challenging to recover, but there is still hope.

If you are dealing with mental anxiety or depression after an accident, you can make a personal injury claim. The law for this process is somewhat complicated. Hence, it is essential to understand details about emotional distress claims.

Table of Contents

What is an Emotional Distress Claim?

Emotional distress or mental anguish – it is a psychological injury that happened after recovering from any physical damage. It may be shown by feelings of humiliation, depression, insomnia, anxiety, crying, etc., resulting from a traumatic incident.

From limiting your activities to harming your personal relationships, psychological injury can have an intense effect on your life. After an injury, it takes weeks or months of treatment to go back to your everyday life.

In the meantime, many things in your life are lost. Civil lawsuit emphasizes emotional distress. According to the law, it is a state of mental suffering that occurs due to someone’s negligence – mainly of a physical nature.

The person, who is going through emotional trauma, can assert a civil lawsuit claiming emotional distress. You can include the compensation for the losses in an emotional distress lawsuit.

Symptoms of Emotional Distress

The symptoms of emotional trauma vary from person to person. That is the reason suing for emotional distress is tough. There is no fixed pattern of emotional distress. However, the common ones are;

Anxiety and fear

After an accident, you may have a fear of driving again. You may also have anxiety thoughts and unease, which can keep you away from enjoying your everyday lifestyle.

Guilt or Humiliation

Even though it’s not your fault, you may likely feel that you could have avoided the accident. You may feel guilty about being hurt physically.

Anger or Frustration

Showing your anger to someone around you is a sign of distress. This type of behavior can have an impact on your relationship with that person.

Depression and insomnia

You may feel helpless during and after recovering from injuries. In the end, you feel low and find yourself struggling to get the energy back.

Read More: Suing Employer for Emotional Distress

Types of Emotional Distress Claim

There are many types of emotional distress claims asserted in the civil lawsuit in Canada. They are;

  • Intentional or negligent infliction of distress
  • Associated with a pain and suffering claim
  • Associated with a loss of consortium claim
  • Parasitic emotional distress with physical injury

The most common emotional distress claims are either negligently or intentionally inflicted. Both require proof of someone’s state of mind for performing a specific act.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED)

If your psychological injury occurs due to someone else’s negligence, you may recover for NIED. The NIED claim can be brought by the person hurt by the negligent act. It must prove the followings;

  • Plaintiff going through severe emotional distress
  • Defendant involved in the negligent act
  • Defendant’s act was the cause of the severe emotional distress.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

IIED is also termed as the “tort of outrage.” The IIED claim is based on the extreme intentional behavior of a person to harm the injured person. There is no clear guide for intentional infliction of emotional distress in Canada.

Hence, it becomes difficult to prove an IIED claim. The extreme and outrageous conduct must be more than threats, insults, or annoyance. An IIED claim can be successful with the following proof;

  • The defendant’s conducted intentionally
  • The defendant’s behavior was intense and outrageous
  • The defendant’s action is resulting in the plaintiff emotional distress
  • The distress was severe

Suing for Emotional Distress

When you sue for emotional distress, it means you are claiming financial damages related to emotional distress. Your claim can include expenses for medical bills, losing salary, and loss of joy.

Bystanders or the relatives of the injured may be able to assert an emotional distress lawsuit. Note that you can sue for emotional damages only if the accident resulted in physical injury.

Since it is a real consequence of an accident, fight for the compensation you deserve. In such cases, it is essential to work with a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer can help you gather the evidence to prove the actual value of your damages in court.

When to Sue for Emotional Distress?

Suing for an emotional distress claim becomes easier when done with a personal injury claim. There is a good chance to earn better compensation if you can prove the followings;

  • You have been injured badly.
  • The other party is at-fault and commits the act to the court.
  • Responsible action by other parties leads directly to your injury.

Know Also: How Long After an Accident Can You Sue in Canada?

How to Prove Emotional Distress

If you want to get better compensation for your emotional distress, you must prove it. You have to prove that the mental trauma was a direct result of the accident. However, you can also verify it in the following ways;

  • Evaluate how you are emotionally impacted by the accident. You may use the testimony of your own, family, and friends. Note down your symptoms over time to prove the emotional impact of the accident.
  • Add your personal proofs with other evidence that show the severity of the accident.
  • While you file the compensation claim, include all your emotional distress damages.
  • Follow the legal system like building more evidence, preparing a legal strategy, and negotiating fair compensation.

How to Sue for Emotional Distress?

The process of suing for emotional pain is like other types of pain and suffering. Before anything else, you need to take professional help. Here we made a guide to help you get the best bet.

  • Take Professional Help

When you decide to sue for emotional distress, consult a personal injury lawyer at first. During this time, you may not be in a position to handle the situation. So, having a lawyer by your side can help you won the emotional distress settlement.

The lawyer will help you file the paperwork needed and negotiate for you with the other party. In short, a personal injury lawyer can represent you in court.

  • Consult a Doctor or Psychologist

A doctor or psychologist can ensure a proper diagnosis for your emotional distress. The doctor may identify any post-traumatic stress disorder if you have. Along with the treatment, you can address and document your symptoms.

  • Keep Copies of Documentation

The documents like medical records, sessions, and bills can be authentic evidence. It gives a neutral expert opinion for your condition. Also, the document serves as proof of financial damages that the treatment has caused.

  • Create Your Personal Documentation

You can demonstrate your personal records such as photos, journals, and home videos. It can give a hint of the suffering you have experienced.

How Much Can I Sue For Emotional Distress?

The first stage in the procedure is realizing that you have a right to compensation for your emotional suffering. As soon as you are aware that you have a claim, the following step is to determine how much compensation you should ask for from the person or company who caused the accident (or their insurance provider). This includes determining how much you need to look for:

  • The price of your therapy or treatment for emotional distress
  • The effects of your emotional distress on a daily, non-financial basis

What’s Next?

After all the steps, your lawyer will issue a demand letter and file a claim. Within the statute of limitations, the lawyer will file your case in court to ensure your rights. You may get settlement offers, request to visit the defendant’s doctor during the process.

Let your lawyer handle all these as they know if it will affect your case. Once your case goes to trial, the lawyer will present the evidence on your behalf. Then, the lawyer will negotiate and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.


As shown, suing for emotional distress is often a complicated matter. There is a lot of things associated with the case. But if an accident damages you emotionally, you must file for financial compensation.

That’s why; consulting a well-qualified lawyer may be in your best interest. You may not get the mental state back soon, but you may recover somewhat financially.



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