Besides physical injuries from accidents, victims may endure significant mental and emotional pain. Fortunately, they can file personal injury claims to seek compensation. Consulting a personal injury lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the legal process. 

This article explains the legal grounds for such claims, the evidence required, and practical tips for successfully obtaining compensation.

What is Mental and Emotional Distress?

What is Mental and Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is a state of psychological suffering that arises from a traumatic experience. Below are a few symptoms of emotional distress.


Anxiety is an emotional state characterized by fear, tension, and uneasiness, often accompanied by physical symptoms like high blood pressure. 

While fear and anxiety are often used interchangeably, they differ: fear is a short-term response to an immediate danger, whereas anxiety is a future-focused reaction to a vague threat. Consequently, anxiety can significantly impact a person’s daily life.


Also known as major depressive disorder (MDD) or clinical depression, depression is characterized by a relentless feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. A person with depression may have feelings of worthlessness, trouble thinking, headaches, and back pain. 


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is triggered by a terrifying event, such as a car accident, sudden illness, natural disaster, or physical abuse. 

Someone with PTSD may experience nightmares, negative thoughts, flashbacks, and hopelessness. These recurring disturbing thoughts can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

Chronic insomnia

Chronic insomnia is a disorder that makes it hard to fall or stay asleep and can last for more than three months. 

People with insomnia often cannot get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep for adults. Symptoms include difficulty focusing and depression. Insomnia can lead to a higher risk of accidents and diseases and lower performance.

Legal Grounds for Mental and Emotional Distress Personal Injury Claims

Legal Grounds for Mental and Emotional Distress Personal Injury Claims

To claim compensation for mental and emotional distress, you must establish a legal basis for your claim. The following are common legal grounds:

Road accidents

Vehicular accidents can trigger trauma, anxiety, and PTSD, leading to significant mental and emotional distress. 

For instance, a passenger involved in a car collision may experience flashbacks, nightmares, and persistent fear of driving. These behavioral changes can disrupt daily life, necessitating therapy and support to manage or overcome these issues.

Workplace incidents

Workplace accidents can also cause trauma, anxiety, and stress. Consider a construction worker who falls from scaffolding due to inadequate safety measures. 

In addition to serious physical injuries, the worker may suffer anxiety about returning to work and PTSD from the fall. Financial instability can further exacerbate stress due to expensive medical bills.

Medical malpractice

Patients affected by medical malpractice may develop a fear of future medical treatments and depression due to worsened health conditions. 

For example, a surgeon performing a procedure on the wrong body part can cause the patient to endure unnecessary pain, require additional surgeries, and face prolonged recovery. This can also result in a deep mistrust of medical professionals.

How to Prove Personal Injury Claims

How to Prove Personal Injury Claims

To prove a personal injury claim, plaintiffs must establish the four elements of negligence:

  • The defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff.
  • The defendant breached that duty.
  • The plaintiff suffered injuries or emotional distress.
  • The defendant’s act or omission is the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

The following pieces of evidence can support their case:

  • Journal entries: These provide a personal and chronological account of an individual’s emotional state and struggles, capturing the daily impact of the accident or malpractice and offering first-hand evidence of symptoms experienced.
  • Medical records: These detailed records of symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments demonstrate a professional assessment of the plaintiff’s condition and the incident’s impact on their mental health and daily life.
  • Psychological evaluations: These evaluations provide professional insights into the plaintiff’s psychological condition, supporting the claim for compensation.
  • Expert testimonies: Testimonies from psychologists and psychiatrists offer credible and authoritative evidence that substantiates the plaintiff’s claims and illustrates the extent of their psychological suffering.

Compensation for Mental and Emotional Distress

When seeking compensation for mental and emotional distress, two types of damages come into play: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are financial awards intended to cover losses from injury or wrongdoing. They include:

  • Present and future medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation fees
  • Therapy costs

These damages aim to reimburse the victim for actual expenses incurred and projected financial losses directly related to the incident.

In contrast, non-economic damages compensate for intangible losses without a direct monetary value. They address the psychological and emotional impact of an injury and may include:

  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Decreased quality of life

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

A personal injury attorney can assist you in filing a claim for emotional distress caused by other people’s negligence. Their expertise can help you receive compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced.

Adamson Ahdoot’s dependable personal injury lawyers in California are equipped to handle your unique case. Offering consultations in both English and Spanish, the firm assists anyone harmed by another person. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, their expertise can greatly benefit your claim.

Samuel Wright

Samuel Wright, a cybersecurity expert with a Master’s degree in Information Security from New York University, has been part of our team since 2020. His 15 years of experience in cyber and physical security systems provide a comprehensive perspective on safety issues. Before joining us, Samuel worked in various high-level security roles for tech corporations. His off-work interests include practicing martial arts and volunteering for online safety awareness programs.

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