It seems in every personal injury case there is always a portion of the award given for “emotional duress”. While the layman’s perspective might be that this is simply asking for more money, it is an actual concern when dealing with the aftermath of an injury. If you’ve been hurt through no fault of your own, it likely goes far beyond the simple pain and medical expenses. Furthermore, sometimes harassment by another can be so intense as to result in real psychological harm or other damages that merit compensation. If you’ve been subjected to such severe emotional turmoil that it interferes with your ability to function, the question that likely comes to mind is: how do I prove it? It’s easy to say or act traumatized, it is quite another to prove it. Hopefully, the following guidelines will assist you. Do note that this article does not constitute legal advice, and those seeking such advice should find a qualified lawyer such as David Heil, PA.
First, you have to be able to point to an event or series of events that may have triggered emotional distress. While it is true there are many people with mental disorders that make them more susceptible to daily stressors than the average person, one cannot reasonably expect compensation from everybody who triggers the condition. There must be some unusual trigger or a clear intent to trigger an adverse psychological reaction in order to claim damages.
It is of special note that simple negligence without a physical injury does not yield damages for emotional distress, partly due to the difficulty of proving emotional distress. This is why you must be able to point to a specific event that could have reasonably triggered the emotional damage.
Intensity and Duration:
It is natural that one should feel uneasy after suffering harm or even through simple day-to-day interactions. Thankfully, most of us are able to push through and move on from it. Not everybody is so fortunate however, and the effects of the damage may linger for some time. Post-traumatic stress disorder is the most common example of an intense, long-lasting mental disorder that can stem from specific events or a series of events. Being able to point to examples of how your emotional distress resulted in an inability to perform or even actual objectively verifiable physical distress will go a long way towards proving your claim to emotional distress.
Emotional duress is not always all in your head. Severe enough emotional damage can manifest as physical symptoms including, but not limited to difficulty breathing, headaches, and nausea. All of these symptoms are objectively verifiable and can be used to help prove emotional harm was inflicted. In fact, if you can tie these symptoms to a specific event, emotional damage may not be necessary to prove as these conditions of themselves would merit compensation.
Ultimately, the most effective item towards proving emotional distress is a doctor’s testimony. If you can find a psychologist who is willing to testify: either under oath or in writing, that you are currently suffering emotional distress it will lend heavy weight to your arguments. It is far more difficult to fake emotional harm to somebody who is trained to spot exactly that after all.
Ultimately, pursuit of a personal injury case is a long and difficult road. Demonstrating that you were harmed emotionally is an uphill battle in most court-rooms owing to the difficulty in proving it. In a legal context, it helps to think of your emotional damage in the same way as looking for a black hole. Even if you are sure it’s there, the only way to prove it’s there is not by observing it directly, but by observing the effects on the environment around it. If you keep this in mind, you and your attorney should have no trouble in pressing for an emotional damage claim.
The writer of this article, Brennen Kliffmueller, is well read in areas of the law and understands fully how to use the system to ensure justice is served and ways he can make his attorney’s job much easier. He shares these experiences with others so they can learn to best work with the system rather than feel pressured by it. If you wish to learn more you can visit on Google+.