Can I make a personal injury claim for emotional harm?

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When an injured person is awarded damages for “pain and suffering” as the result of a personal injury lawsuit, the phrase commonly refers to the combination of physical pain and emotional distress caused by the injury. Most personal injury claims include pain and suffering as deserving of compensation. But what if the injury is purely emotional? Mental anguish can be regarded as an injury, although it is psychological and not physical, in cases where the person is a victim of intentional or negligent actions by another person.

According to the law library of, “Mental anguish implies a high level of mental distress and pain. … not simply resentment, embarrassment, disappointment, or anger. Suing for mental anguish refers to suffering from emotional disturbances.” For example, grief, trauma, fear, anxiety, distress, and depression fit the definition of mental anguish. Mental anguish lawsuits “usually arise from another type of tort that can cause serious emotional distress, such as medical malpractice, defamation, or battery.”

You will need to consult an experienced attorney if you wish to pursue a lawsuit for emotional distress that you have suffered. These damages can be difficult to assess and calculate. Mental anguish can’t be counted as simply as medical bills and other costs associated with physical injuries. If successful in a mental anguish lawsuit, a plaintiff can receive, according to, “non-economic damages.” This means instead of funds to pay, e.g., for medical bills, the plaintiff receives monetary damages for difficult-to-calculate conditions such as loss of reputation, a disability such as PTSD, or the long-term effects of a trauma.

The intentional infliction of emotional distress is a tort in its own right. According to an article published in the Marquette Law Review, Severe emotional distress can be found only when “the distress inflicted is so severe that no reasonable man could be expected to endure it.” But what is a “reasonable” person? A defendant may be found liable for preying on a plaintiff’s particular vulnerability, even when a person of average emotional strength would be able to endure the situation.

Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on personal injury law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at, or by calling (336) 882-2000.


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