How to Prove Emotional Distress
Nov 21, 2016
Plaintiffs who file personal injury or intentional tort claims often ask defendants to pay damages for the infliction of emotional distress. Ohio courts make collecting on such claims difficult by following rules that generally require plaintiffs to give personal accounts of their suffering that are corroborated by witnesses and health care professionals.
An empathetic Columbus, Ohio, emotional distress lawyer can help a plaintiff who develops new or worsened depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or another mental or behavioral problem following the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another clear these evidentiary hurdles.
Proving the existence and extent of emotional distress requires presenting some combination of five types of evidence to a civil court judge or jury. These are
- Intense emotional suffering—In layperson’s terms, showing this requires answering the question “How badly did the harmful action mess you up?” Being unable to return to work because of lingering fear or loss of trust in other people counts as intense emotional distress, as does falling into a depression so deep that the plaintiff’s marriage and children suffer.
- Prolonged suffering—Courts do not set strict time limits on claims of emotional distress, but mental or behavioral problems that last for months or years are the most likely to qualify for compensation.
- Physical symptoms of emotional distress—Severe weight loss, self-harm, balding, ulcers, shakes, and tics can stem from emotional stress. Presenting evidence of these problems can do much to convince a judge or jury that mental and behavioral problems occurred.
- Connection between the defendant’s actions and the emotional distress—Did the problems develop or grow more severe after the car accident, physical or personal attack, or problem at the defendant business? The severity of the incident may also be taken into account. For instance, being hit at low speed in a parking lot will generally be considered less likely to trigger emotional distress than will getting trapped in a preventable restaurant fire.
- Medical documentation—Diagnoses from doctors, reports from social workers, and/or testimony from mental health counselors will help a plaintiff make his or her case for compensation for emotional distress.
You can learn more about filing and substantiating claims for emotional distress by speaking with a Columbus, Ohio, emotional distress lawyer at Agee, Clymer, Mitchell and Portman. Schedule an appointment online or call us at (800) 678-3318.