Emotional distress can impact all aspects of your life — your career, your relationships, and even your financial future. While the far-reaching consequences of emotional distress are clear, proving your injuries in a court of law can be challenging. Unlike physical injuries that can be verified with x-rays, lab tests and outward symptoms, the symptoms of emotional distress are often either hidden or exceptionally difficult to quantify.
If you are considering filing a claim for emotional distress, here are five things you’ll need to demonstrate to the courts:
1) Symptom onset and duration
To prove emotional distress as an injury, you need to be able to demonstrate cause and effect. This may mean documenting changes to your regular daily routines, submitting letters from friends, colleagues and your employer, and providing proof of any medical treatment you’ve sought for your symptoms.
2) The intensity of your emotional distress
As with personal injury claims, courts consider the intensity of your emotional anguish when considering whether or not to award compensation. The more intense and prolonged your symptoms are, the more likely the courts will rule in your favor.
3) Associated physical symptoms
While it’s important to focus on emotional injury when seeking damages for emotional distress, be sure to also provide evidence of any related physical injuries and symptoms related to your emotional state. Tension headaches, insomnia, panic attacks, weight loss or gain, and gastro-intestinal issues are all physical conditions that can be caused by emotional distress.
4) The root cause of your emotional distress
Courts consider the severity of the accident, assault or other events when weighing the validity of a claim for emotional distress. Generally speaking, the more dramatic the triggering event, the more likely the courts are to grant damages to the plaintiff.
5) Validation from medical professionals
Any claim of emotional distress must be supported by one or more medical professionals with the experience and qualifications needed to diagnose and treat psychological injuries and related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Claimants need to provide the court with clear medical documentation that verifies their symptoms, explains their diagnosis and prognosis, and tracks their treatments. This documentation should also include receipts for any medications, therapy sessions and other expenses related to the claim.
If you think you’ve suffered from emotional distress, speak with an experienced personal injury mental health provider.