Can You Sue for Emotional Distress in Ohio? | Kisling, Nestico & Redick
Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC Hurt in a Car? Call KNR.
There are many subjective ways an injury can negatively impact your life. Here's how victims can recover from their mental and emotional suffering.
Written by
KNR Legal
Date posted
May 5, 2023

If you’re injured due to another’s negligence, you probably know you’re entitled to compensation for various financial losses. This includes apparent damages, such as your medical bills and lost wages. However, there are other (less tangible) ways people are harmed in personal injury cases.

Whether you are hurt in a car crash, a fall, or due to medical malpractice, there are many subjective ways your life can be negatively impacted. These are called noneconomic damages. One of the most common types is the emotional distress you or a loved one endured.

While your emotional distress is harder to calculate than medical bills, they are no less valuable. Our Ohio injury attorneys will discuss whether you can sue for emotional distress and offer some common examples. Then they’ll explain what you’ll need to prove and the significance of getting all the compensation you deserve.

Emotional Distress after a Physical Injury

Emotional distress is the mental and emotional suffering a person experiences due to a traumatic event. A severe, injury-causing incident like a motor vehicle accident is one example. Emotional distress can manifest in numerous ways, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and sleep disturbances.

Examples of Emotional Distress

Emotional distress after an injury can take many forms with unique symptoms and characteristics. It’s essential to identify and understand your emotional suffering and address issues promptly.

  • Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) occurs immediately after a traumatic event and typically lasts a few days to a few weeks. Symptoms of ASD may include anxiety, irritability, dissociation, and nightmares.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a more severe form of emotional distress that can develop after a person experiences a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance behavior, and hyperarousal. It can take weeks, months, or even years for PTSD symptoms to appear. PTSD is commonly seen after severe car and truck accidents or other traumatic events.
  • Adjustment Disorder occurs when a person has difficulty adjusting to a significant life change, such as the loss of a job or the death of a loved one. Symptoms of adjustment disorder may include depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. Adjustment Disorder might be an issue if a loved one was suddenly killed in a wrongful death accident.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive, persistent worry and anxiety. Symptoms of GAD include restlessness, fatigue, irritability, and muscle tension.
  • Depression is a common type of emotional distress due to various factors, including trauma, genetics, and life circumstances. Symptoms of depression may include sadness, lack of interest in activities, feelings of hopelessness or guilt, and changes in appetite and sleep patterns.

If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress after an accident, it’s highly recommended that you seek professional help and support.

Suing for Emotional Distress in Ohio

In many cases, it is possible to pursue financial compensation for emotional distress caused by negligence through a lawsuit or insurance claim. To be successful in an emotional distress lawsuit, a victim must prove that the at-fault party’s actions were the cause of their emotional distress. They must also show that the emotional pain was severe enough to warrant compensation.

Proving Emotional Distress with Evidence

Establishing that you or a loved one suffered emotional distress from an injury can be challenging. Emotional pain is subjective and, to some degree, open to interpretation. In many cases, testimony and evidence from outside experts and first-hand accounts of what you went through can help. In addition, some evidence can help establish your emotional distress and support a legal claim for damages.

Evidence commonly used to prove emotional distress:

  • Medical Records: Medical records may include diagnostic tests, treatment plans, and progress notes. These documents can establish the severity and duration of your emotional distress.
  • Expert Testimony: Mental health professionals may be called upon to testify about your diagnosis, and treatment. This can provide valuable insight into the nature and extent of your mental anguish.
  • Witness Testimony: Witness testimony from individuals who observed your behavior or interactions can help describe your emotional distress. This testimony may come from loved ones who have noticed changes in your behavior. Changes might include mood swings, insomnia, or social withdrawal.
  • Documented Changes in Behavior: Documentation can include absence records from work or school, missed social engagements, or changes in sleep or eating patterns. This can demonstrate psychological troubles impacting your everyday life.
  • Diaries & Journals: Diaries or journals kept by the victim can articulate the emotional distress they experienced. Entries can describe the victim’s feelings, behaviors, and interactions with others. This can convey the severity and duration of the suffering.
  • Photos & Videos: Photographs or videos can provide visual evidence of your emotional distress. For example, a video of the plaintiff having a panic attack can illustrate what the victim is going through and the impact on their life.

Proving emotional distress in a legal action or insurance claim requires careful consideration and presentation of evidence. It is crucial to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can help gather and prepare the evidence necessary to establish emotional distress and its financial impact.

Calculating the Value of Emotional Distress

Assessing a dollar value for your emotional distress after a personal injury can be challenging; there is no one-size-fits-all formula.

Economic losses like your medical expenses and lost wages are simpler to evaluate. Some of the factors considered when determining the value of emotional distress include:

  • Severity– This is a substantial factor in calculating the value of your claim or lawsuit. If your emotional distress is so severe that you can no longer work or live as you did before the accident, it will likely yield more compensation.
  • Duration– The length of time you or your loved one endured emotional stress is also a major consideration when filing a claim or lawsuit. Emotional distress that lasts for an extended period and requires ongoing care should result in more compensation.
  • Adverse Effect on Your Life – Emotional anguish resulting in the loss of your career, diminished enjoyment of life, or negative impact on your relationships should be considered when assessing the value of your claim.
  • Nature of the Accident – The details of the accident will also be considered when calculating what you deserve for the emotional distress you experienced. For example, the harm caused by a standard car accident may be viewed differently than the distress caused by a negligent medical professional.

By working with a personal injury lawyer, you can review the full impact of how an injury caused you emotional distress and maximize its value.

Why Compensation for Emotional Distress is Significant

People might discount or ignore the emotional turmoil and mental pain that follows a traumatic, life-changing injury. After all, you may also be in considerable physical pain and worry about practical matters like paying bills and resolving your case.

But remember that the insurance company and lawyers representing the other side are counting on you to overlook the total compensation you deserve. They hope you’ll settle in favor of a fast, low-ball offer.

Recovering the full and fair compensation you’re legally entitled to for your emotional distress can help cover the possible long-term costs associated with medications, therapy, and the lost wages incurred because of your experiences. Suing for emotional distress after an injury can also instill a sense of closure and justice for the victim. By holding negligent parties accountable for the physical and emotional harm they inflict on others, you can prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Legal Help to Sue for Emotional Distress

You can better access the financial, emotional, and psychological resources needed to move past an injury by suing for emotional distress.  However, you’ll need legal help to collect the necessary evidence and make a compelling argument for all you deserve.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help establish liability for the accident in question, gather evidence to support your claim and negotiate with all parties to secure the maximum amount.

At KNR, We Can Help

You should never ignore the emotional distress or mental anguish after an injury caused by another’s negligence. Under the law, you have rights and options to make you whole and hold the party at fault accountable. If you or a loved one are having a difficult time after an injury, call KNR.

Our Ohio injury lawyers have helped numerous people recover compensation for the mental effects following major injuries. Let us evaluate the details, help determine the value of your claim, and what you can expect from suing for emotional distress.

Our offices are conveniently located throughout Ohio. As one of the largest personal injury firms in the state, we have fought for injured Ohioans for over 15 years and know how to get results.

Call 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free consultation, and there are no fees unless you recover compensation.