How Much Can I Sue for Emotional Distress?

It is fairly common for victims of traumatic accidents to experience emotional distress. California law defines emotional distress as, “suffering, anguish, fright, horror, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shock, humiliation, [or] shame.” Accident victims will often experience many – if not all – of these effects, and emotional distress triggered by a traumatic accident can endure for years, decades, or even the rest of a person’s life. 

Treatment options are available; and, while a person’s emotional distress may never go away entirely, therapy can be important for living as “normal” a life as possible. When a traumatic accident results from someone else’s negligence, California law entitles the victim to just compensation for his or her financial costs—including the costs of all necessary current and future care. 

Importantly, California law also entitles traumatic accident victims to just compensation for their non-financial costs. These costs include the day-to-day impacts of emotional distress. So, if you are suffering from emotional distress following a vehicle collision, fire, dog attack, or any other type of accident, not only may you be entitled to compensation for your treatment, but you may be entitled to additional compensation as well.

At the Law Offices of Mickey Fine, our Bakersfield personal injury lawyer understands the complexities of California law. He knows the hardships you may be facing and works diligently to pursue the maximum compensation to which you may be entitled. If you were hurt because of someone else’s negligence, we want to hear your story.

Determining How Much to Sue for Emotional Distress

Understanding that you are entitled to compensation for your emotional distress is just the first step in the process. Once you know that you have a claim, your next step is to figure out how much you should seek from the at-fault party (or the at-fault party’s insurance company). This includes figuring out how much you should seek for:

  • The costs of treatment or therapy for your emotional distress
  • The day-to-day, non-financial impacts of your emotional distress

1. The Costs of Treatment or Therapy for Emotional Distress

As the Cleveland Clinic advises, “If you feel overwhelmed and can’t manage your emotions and stresses on your own, [you should] seek the help of a professional. . . . Counselors and mental health therapists are trained professionals who can find ways to help you cope, reduce the effects of emotional stress, help you feel better and become more functional in your day-to-day activities.”

For many traumatic accident victims, learning how to cope with their emotional distress is a long and difficult process. It requires professional help, and it may be necessary to speak with someone on a regular basis over a prolonged period of time. When you have a personal injury claim, you can seek compensation for the costs of treatment and therapy for as long as you need them. When determining how much compensation to seek, it is important to consider both your current and future needs, and this is something with which your doctor or therapist and your Bakersfield personal injury lawyer can assist you. 

2. The Non-Financial Impacts of Emotional Distress

As mentioned above, traumatic accident victims in California can also recover compensation for the non-financial impacts of their emotional distress. This includes suffering, grief, anxiety, and all of the other impacts listed in the introduction to this article. 

Unlike calculating the cost of treatment or therapy, there are no concrete figures accident victims (or their attorneys) can use to place a dollar value on the non-financial impacts of emotional distress. Instead, as we have previously discussed in detail, proving these impacts requires evidence such as:

  • Medical Records
  • Expert Testimony
  • Your Daily Notes
  • Your Testimony
  • Testimony from Your Friends and Loved Ones
  • Photo or Video Evidence

Using these forms of evidence (potentially among others), your personal injury lawyer can place a reasonable dollar value on the “cost” of living with your emotional distress under California law. Individual accident victims’ compensation awards can vary widely—from tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars. 

As a result, when it comes to determining how much you can sue for emotional distress, this truly depends on your individual circumstances. Generally speaking, the more severe your accident’s effects, the more you will be entitled to recover. But, there are many other relevant factors as well; and, ultimately, determining how much you should seek for your pain and suffering requires a careful, introspective, and in-depth assessment of all of the various ways your emotional distress impacts (and will continue to impact) your life. 

Discuss Your Emotional Distress Case with a Bakersfield Personal Injury Lawyer

If you would like more information about suing for emotional distress in California, you can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine. Located in Bakersfield, we help accident victims throughout California.

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To discuss your legal rights with attorney Mickey Fine in confidence, please call (661) 333-3333 or request an appointment online today.

Personal Injury
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on