Emotional distress may be one of the most difficult injuries to prove. Unlike a broken arm or leg, there are no X-rays someone can point to, or even a scar you can display to prove your injuries.
Instead, emotional distress is largely psychological. And while the suffering can be as great, if not greater, than physical injuries, plaintiffs can have a hard time proving to a court they are entitled to damages given the difficulty of proof.
For those considering or pursuing a claim for emotional distress, here are five ways you may be able to prove your claim:
- Intensity. The more intense the mental anguish, the better chance you have of proving that your emotional distress was severe enough to deserve compensation. In some cases, however -- particularly, cases alleging negligent (rather than intentional) infliction of emotional distress, courts will typically require some sort of physical injury as well.
- Duration. Persistent and recurring pain that remains with you for a long period of time, like post traumatic stress, may also help prove severe emotional distress.
- Related Bodily Harm. While it may be difficult to point out evidence of the emotional distress, you may more easily provide evidence of related bodily injury like ulcers, headaches, and other physical signs of distress.
- Underlying Cause. The more extreme the underlying cause of the emotional distress, the more likely a court will find emotional distress. For example, surviving a bombing may be more likely to support a claim than being the victim of an ordinary read-end car accident that resulted in no physical injuries.
- Doctor's Note. A note by a doctor or psychologist should be provided to support every claim.
You will typically need to incorporate several of these methods in proving your claim. For example, you may want to demonstrate both the intensity and duration of your distress and provide supporting medical documentation from your doctor for the psychological pain and any related physical injuries.
If you are making a claim for emotional distress, you will want to work with an experienced personal injury attorney. Proof can be very difficult in these claims, and an attorney can help guide you through your case.