Emotional distress is a type of non-economic damage that can be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit in California. It is defined as “suffering, anguish, fright, horror, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shock, humiliation, and shame.” To recover damages for emotional distress, the plaintiff must prove that they suffered serious emotional distress as a result of the defendant’s negligence or intentional act.
There are two main types of emotional distress claims in California:
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress: This type of claim arises when the defendant’s negligence causes the plaintiff to suffer serious emotional distress. For example, if a defendant negligently causes a car accident that kills the plaintiff’s loved one, the plaintiff may be able to recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress: This type of claim arises when the defendant intentionally or recklessly causes the plaintiff to suffer serious emotional distress. For example, if a defendant intentionally spreads false rumors about the plaintiff, or threatens the plaintiff with violence, the plaintiff may be able to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
To prove an emotional distress claim, the plaintiff must present evidence of the following:
- The defendant’s negligence or intentional act;
- The plaintiff’s serious emotional distress; and
- A causal connection between the defendant’s act and the plaintiff’s emotional distress.
The plaintiff can present evidence of their serious emotional distress in the form of testimony from themselves, their family and friends, and medical professionals. The plaintiff can also present evidence of their emotional distress in the form of medical records, such as records of therapy or counseling sessions.
If the plaintiff is successful in proving their emotional distress claim, they may be able to recover damages for the following:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Punitive damages (in cases of intentional infliction of emotional distress).
If you are considering filing an emotional distress lawsuit in California, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you assess your case and determine whether you have a valid claim. An attorney can also help you gather the necessary evidence and prepare your case for trial.
- California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI): #CACI
- Emotional Distress in California Personal Injury Cases: https://www.mcnicholaslaw.com/is-emotional-distress-a-personal-injury-in-california/
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in California: https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/personal-injury/intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress/