When you’re hurt in an accident, or even if you witness an accident, you’re almost certainly going to suffer from emotional distress. Emotional distress is a type of compensation that you can claim when an accident occurs.

But to receive compensation for emotional distress, you must work with your Las Vegas personal injury lawyer to prove your losses. How do you prove emotional distress for an accident lawsuit? Can you sue your employer for emotional distress? Who can you hold responsible for your pain and suffering after an accident? Here’s what you need to know.

Emotional Distress After Injury Accident

How Can I Prove Emotional Distress?

Before you sue for emotional distress, you have to prove it was a direct result of the accident. You can prove emotional distress with the following steps:

  1. Evaluate the ways that you’re emotionally impacted by the accident. Emotional distress examples include fear, anxiety, crying, lack of sleep, depression and humiliation. You might use your own testimony, testimony from family and friends and journaling of your symptoms over time to show the emotional impact of the accident.
  2. Supplement your personal evidence with additional evidence about the severity of the accident in general, including the duration and severity of physical injuries.
  3. Include emotional distress damages when you file your legal claim for compensation. Emotional distress may be part of a claim that includes physical injuries and other damages. In other cases, negligent infliction of emotional harm and distress may be a stand-alone legal claim.
  4. Pursue your claim for compensation through the legal system including building additional evidence, preparing your legal strategy, and negotiating fair compensation.

What Is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is all of the ways that you suffer emotionally when a personal injury accident occurs. It is a category of injuries that you may include in your claim for compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. Examples of emotional distress could include worrying, loss of concentration, stress, replaying the events, crying, and insomnia.

You may be able to bring an emotional distress lawsuit with a personal injury attorney if you’ve suffered emotionally after an accident. Don’t discount your pain and suffering. It is a real consequence of an accident and you should fight for the compensation you deserve under the law. Consider a consultation with a personal injury lawyer for emotional distress to evaluate whether you have a case or not.

What Evidence Can You Use to Prove Emotional Distress?

Evidence to prove emotional distress includes witness testimony, documentation and other evidence related to the accident. For example, you may provide your own testimony of flashbacks, inability to sleep, anxiety, and any other emotional injuries that you have associated with the accident. Your friends and family may testify to the emotional impact of the accident. If you keep a journal of your emotional distress, your journal can be helpful evidence of your emotional injuries.

You supplement your testimony with other evidence that demonstrates the severity of the underlying accident. The more severe the accident, the greater your emotional trauma is likely to be. By presenting evidence of your physical injuries and the facts and circumstances of the accident, you can paint a complete picture of the emotional trauma associated with the accident. By suing for emotional distress, you will have a chance to collect full compensation for all your losses, not just physical injuries.

Intentional vs. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

An emotional distress claim may be based on intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress. An intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is based on purposeful or very reckless conduct where the person who causes the harm is almost certain to cause emotional distress.

A claim based on negligent infliction of emotional distress occurs when the responsible party may not necessarily mean to purposefully cause harm, but their actions result in harm just the same. This can apply to car accidents, wrongful death or any other type of personal injury case.

Do I Qualify to Bring a Claim of Emotional Distress?

There are two ways to qualify to bring a claim of emotional distress. First, you may be the victim of a personal injury accident. When you suffer physical injuries because of an accident, it’s almost certain that you have some measure of emotional trauma relating to the accident and could qualify for an emotional distress lawsuit settlement.

The other way that victims qualify to bring an emotional distress claim is by witnessing a serious accident happen. The witness must be a close relative of the injured victim.

“But I Almost Died!” Can You Bring an Emotional Distress Claim if There’s No Physical Injury?

An emotional distress claim requires a physical injury or some other type of tangible harm. There is no emotional distress claim for near misses. For example, if another vehicle comes very close to striking you but manages to avoid the collision, there’s no legal claim.

Not all injuries are physical. For example, the plaintiff in the Shoen v. Amerco, Inc. case brought a claim for infliction of emotional distress stating that the plaintiff suffered because of an employment contract termination. Whether the harm is physical or whether there’s another type of harm, there must be an injury associated with the events for the victim to have an emotional distress claim.

Shoen v. Americo, Inc. – Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

The Nevada Supreme Court talked about negligent infliction of emotional distress in the Shoen v. Americo, Inc. case.

The court answered the question of whether the person hurt in an accident can bring an emotional distress claim or whether emotional distress claims are limited to bystanders.

The Shoen case dealt with the sale of the U-Haul company. The original founder of the company, Leonard Shoen, sold the company to a new owner. In exchange, the original owner received a lifetime employment contract with the new company.

The new company later fired Shoen. They said they were justified in firing him because he failed to act in the best interests of his employer. Shoen sued for a number of things including intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled that Shoen could bring his lawsuit for emotional distress even though he was the principal person hurt by the employment termination. The court ruled that emotional distress claims aren’t limited to bystanders. They said that since bystanders can bring claims for emotional distress, it only makes sense that the person directly hurt can also have a claim. The Nevada Supreme Court reversed a preliminary ruling that favored the defense and ruled that Shoen could bring his emotional distress claims against his former employer.

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How Do I Win a Claim for Emotional Distress?

If an accident emotionally damages you, you may deserve financial compensation. Emotional distress is one category of damages that you can claim.

To win a claim for emotional distress, you must include the demand for compensation in your legal filings. You must prepare the evidence to show that you’ve suffered emotional distress. You must prove the severity of your injuries.

Have you been hurt in an accident? The attorneys at Adam S. Kutner Accident & Injury Attorneys can help. Our experienced Las Vegas personal injury law firm can ensure that you win compensation for all of the types of damages that occur, including emotional distress. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.


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Adam S. Kutner

Adam S. Kutner Personal Injury Lawyer

With more than 30 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.