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How to Sue for Emotional Distress

Emotional distress is an integral part of almost any tort claim. When you’re hurt in a car accident, slip and fall or even if you don’t suffer a physical injury, you may wonder how to go about suing for emotional distress. Mental harm is a very serious injury that can impact your health and well-being, both in the short and long term. Our Miami personal injury attorneys explain more on how to sue for emotional distress.

Is It Possible to Sue for Emotional Distress?

To sue for emotional distress, evaluate the type of legal claim that you have. Once you identify that type of legal claim, state it in your complaint for compensation. File the complaint with the court. Take the necessary steps to determine what the case is worth. Gather the evidence to prove the case and continue with steps in the legal process. You may have the opportunity to settle with the other party, or you will need to take the case to trial to sue for emotional distress.

How Do You Prove Emotional Distress?

To prove non-economic damages in Florida, such as emotional distress, you need to show the severity of your physical injuries and the extent of your mental suffering. For mental injuries, you have experts testify to their evaluation of your condition. They testify to your diagnosis and its impact on your life.

Also, showing the extent of your physical injuries helps prove emotional distress because it makes sense that mental injuries occur in proportion to physical injuries.

RELATED: The Risks of PTSD After a Car Accident

How Much Can You Get For Emotional Distress?

How much you can legally recover for emotional distress depends on several factors. The severity of your physical injuries, the mental injuries that you have, and even the events that give rise to the legal claim can all impact what you can get for emotional distress. It may be anything from a nominal amount to an amount that exceeds the value of your economic damages for the case.

Is It Possible to Suffer Emotional Distress Damages Without Physical Damages?

Yes, it is possible to suffer emotional distress damages without any physical damages. Depending on state law and the type of case, it may be possible to claim compensation for emotional distress even if you don’t have bodily injuries.

Some types of cases that do not depend on physical impact may include defamation, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium. Be sure to review the facts and the applicable laws in your particular case to determine your rights and options. In any case, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to see whether you have a claim and how much you could recover for your emotional distress after an accident.

Steps To Sue For Emotional Distress

If you’ve been hurt in an accident and are thinking about suing the responsible party for your emotional distress, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Determine what kind of case you have – Knowing what type of case you have is vital for preparing the right legal documents.
  2. Determine if that kind of case qualifies for emotional distress damages – Not all torts qualify for emotional distress. Investigate to determine if you can include emotional distress as part of the claim.
  3. Prepare a summons and complaint for the lawsuit – State the appropriate type of tort in your legal documents. Write a summons and complaint. Put the tort in question as one of the legal grounds for the claim.
  4. State that you have emotional damages in the complaint; demand financial compensation as relief – All of the damages that you have need to be listed in the complaint document. Be sure that your list is thorough, including any emotional damages that you have.
  5. File the lawsuit in the appropriate court and pay the filing fee – The court in which you file the case must have jurisdiction. In addition, where you choose to file the case may determine what laws apply.
  6. Serve the other party – The other party has a right to notice of the legal proceedings against them. You must serve them in accordance with the rules of procedure.
  7. Begin to build the evidence and follow legal procedures to pursue the case – Winning your case depends on evidence. It’s never too early to begin gathering evidence. Be aware of court dates and deadlines for various steps in the case.
  8. Understand if limits may apply – Some states impose damage caps on pain and suffering. The caps apply only in some states, and only in some kinds of cases. You need to know if a cap applies to you so that you can be prepared for what’s to come.

Florida Laws for Emotional Distress Lawsuits

Florida laws allow for emotional distress lawsuits in many circumstances. There are standards for when someone qualifies in order to claim damages in this category. Understanding what qualifies helps you claim the appropriate amount.

Florida Emotional Distress Cases With Physical Injuries

First, if you have physical injuries, in most cases, you qualify to claim emotional damages. You make your demand in addition to what you ask for in compensation for your physical injuries. If you’re in a car accident or hurt in a slip and fall, these are two examples where you can add emotional suffering on top of economic losses. The amount of emotional damages increases as the injuries become more severe. However, determining what you can claim can be a complicated task.

Florida law typically requires physical injuries to sustain a tort claim. Rowell v. Holt, 850 So.2d 474 (Fla 2003) said that negligence cases require a bodily injury for the victim to claim emotional distress damages. The court noted that there must be a discernable physical injury. (See Time Insurance Co. v. Burger, 712 So.2d 389, 393 (Fla 1998)). While the physical impact may be slight, it must exist in these cases nonetheless.

Florida Emotional Distress Cases Without Physical Injuries

However, there are some circumstances in which the nature of the offense is primarily emotional. For example, a case that involves invasion of privacy, by its nature, doesn’t result in a physical injury. Nor does a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. When these types of torts occur, the victim may claim losses based on what’s allowed under the law; there is no requirement of a physical injury.

How Our Miami Attorneys For Emotional Distress Lawsuits Can Help

Do you want to bring an emotional distress lawsuit? Contact our Miami emotional distress attorneys for your free and confidential consultation. Get a personalized evaluation of your case and ask questions as we explore what you might win for your claim.

We know the emotional distress following an accident can cause real suffering for you and your family, and we want to help you get justice. Call us today at (800) 429-4529 to get started.

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

Jack Bernstein is a hard working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you've been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.