How Much Compensation Do We Get for Our Emotional Distress?

Unlike any other losses, the damages incurred due to emotional distress to a person against the action of another person is one of the difficult tasks to examine. Emotional distress can be defined under “Non Economic Distress”. To evaluate the compensation arising due to damages caused for emotional stress, there is no particular set of rules. Thus, the compensation may vary accordingly from one case to another case as every individual’s experience will differ. Emotional distress is apparent and can be enervating. It can change a victim’s life forever!

What is Emotional Distress?

Merriam Webster defines the term  ’emotional distress’ in legal terms as a highly unpleasant emotional reaction (as anguish, humiliation, or fury) which results from another’s conduct and for which damages may be sought, also called as emotional harm, mental anguish, mental distress, mental disturbance, mental suffering.[1]

The term` emotional distress is usually used to describe any claim which a person has incurred as an emotional distress or trauma due to the actions of the other person (negligent act of others). For instance, emotional distress can be in terms of anger, nervousness, guilt, frustration, insomnia, shame, humiliation and anxiety. In cases pertaining to Sexual harassment, the court legally acknowledges it and compensate for  the damages in terms of emotional distress caused to the victim. Damages may be compensated for emotional distress which is caused by intentional means but compensation for negligently caused emotional stress usually requires the petitioner or the plaintiff to prove that he/she has suffered from physical injuries too along with emotional injury.

Emotional distress is also termed as “Mental Anguish”, which is not related to any physical but a psychological injury. This is the main reason as to why  the law recognises “Emotional distress” as a Mental suffering. To claim any compensation related to this, it is advised to first understand the different types of emotional distress claims. The time period for which an individual has faced emotional distress also plays a very vital role in compensating the damages incurred.

Laws in these terms are different for the different jurisdictions but, one can find relief in some or the other way for such emotional sufferings with the help of  Laws.

Law of Torts and Emotional Distress…

The tort is a legal liability which is caused due to wrongdoing or an infringement of right. It is a Civil wrong that causes a person one who claims) to suffer. It generally includes the Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress, financial loss, infringement of privacy, injuries etc.

Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) is a part of Tort action according to which a person intentionally causes damages (distress) in a real and not imaginary sense that none  of the individuals will ever want to endure.

Negligent Infliction  Of Emotional Distress

In this case of emotional distress, a person is harmed due to negligence of someone’s action.

Loss Of Consortium

This is the term used in law of Torts where a person suffers from deprivation due to lack of affection and companionship as an intentional or negligent action of the other person.

Can Pain and Suffering be referred to as Emotional Distress?

We usually come across with the term Pain and Suffering with regards to Insurance claims and compensation. The legal term “Pain and Suffering” has its scope and ambit way ahead than physical losses. It also includes mental and emotional injuries too.

How difficult is it to file a Lawsuit for Emotional Distress?

Emotional Distress cases can be illusionary, due to its tricky nature it is hard to sue for emotional distress. Thus, these types of cases need to be backed by proper documentation as an evidence to claim for compensation. The nature of the documents must be such that it will help the claimant to prove the actual emotional damages which he/she had suffered.

What is the time limit to claim compensation in Emotional Distress cases?

Statute of Limitation is duration or time limit in the legal terms which prescribes the time limit in which an appellant can file a civil suit in the court. Generally, the described time limit for emotional distress claims is two years from the date of the damage (injury) caused.

Thus, one can surely seek the remedies for claiming the compensation for the emotional distress caused  to them. The burden of proof here in civil law is little as compared to the criminal law but, it is necessary to have proper evidence for proving it in the court. There is no fixed calculation method for compensating the losses incurred under emotional distress but the claimant can surely seek justice.

[1]“Emotional distress.” Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, , Accessed 25 May. 2020.

This article is written by Anushita Dubey, 2nd year BA LLB student at Marathwada Mitra Mandal’s Shankarrao Chavan Law College Pune.

Also Read – What is meant by the term ‘Tort’? Discuss the traditional way to understand a tort

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