Everyone says they deal with stress—and, to be fair, many people do. But, if you are suffering from severe stress, you know that some people’s situations are very different from others.
Stress can have direct and tangible effects on your day-to-day life. Being stressed can make it harder to sleep and harder to focus. Being stressed can make it difficult to do your job or enjoy time with your loved ones. Being stressed can give you headaches, and it can be bad for your heart. But is this enough to seek financial compensation if your stress is someone else’s fault? In California, it depends. In most (but not all) cases, stress alone isn’t enough.
If you have questions about your legal rights, the Law Offices of Mickey Fine can help. With decades of proven, successful experience in a range of personal injury cases, we can help you understand your rights and explain all of your legal options.
California Law Typically Doesn’t Allow People to Sue for Stress Alone
Usually, filing a personal injury claim in California requires proof of a physical injury. If you were involved in a car accident, for example, and you are feeling stressed about dealing with the insurance companies but did not suffer injuries in the collision, then you generally would not have a claim for damages.
The same is true if your boss is making your life unnecessarily difficult at work. If your workdays are filled with stress because your boss yells at you and expects you to do more than you can handle, this is an unfortunate and difficult situation, but it is not generally a situation in which you can file a claim for financial compensation.
You Can Seek Compensation for Stress if You Suffered a Physical Injury
However, if you are experiencing stress as the result of an accident in which you were injured, then you can sue for stress—in addition to suing for the other effects of the accident. Under California law, accident victims who suffer physical injuries can seek financial compensation for all of their injury-related losses, and this includes stress and other cognitive and psychological effects.
With that said, insurance companies will not pay for your stress unless you can prove both: (a) that your stress is a result of the accident; and, (b) the amount of compensation you are entitled to recover for your losses. As a result, it will be important for you to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to seek just compensation for your stress on your behalf.
4 Circumstances In Which Victims Can Seek Compensation for Stress Without Physical Injury
While suing for stress in California requires a physical injury in most cases, there are exceptions. For example, since stress can be a consequence of emotional distress, it is possible to seek compensation for stress without a physical injury in cases involving:
- Imminent Fear of Physical Harm – If you are placed in imminent fear of physical harm as a result of someone else’s wrongful conduct, this may provide grounds for you to file a lawsuit even if you were not actually physically harmed.
- Witness to Severe Injury or Death – Under California’s “bystander” law, if you witness the severe injury or death of a loved one, this can provide you with grounds to seek just compensation for your stress and emotional trauma.
- Defamation – If someone publicly makes false and damaging statements about you on social media or elsewhere, you may be able to obtain compensation for your stress through a claim for defamation.
- Stress Disorder Caused By Negligence – In certain cases, it is possible to file a claim if you develop a stress disorder as a result of someone’s negligence even if their negligence does not result in a physical injury.
How Do You Calculate Financial Compensation for Stress?
Let’s say you are able to file a lawsuit against someone for causing you stress. How do you calculate financial compensation for this form of non-financial loss?
In California, the courts and insurance companies use two primary methods to calculate financial compensation for stress and other non-financial losses. These are (a) the multiplier method, and (b) the per diem method.
With the multiplier method, compensation for non-financial losses is determined based on a multiple of the plaintiff’s financial losses. For example, if your medical bills and lost wages total $50,000, then you might be entitled to $150,000 for your non-financial losses. With the per diem method, compensation is calculated by placing a dollar value on the plaintiff’s daily stress and then multiplying this by the number of days the plaintiff is reasonably likely to experience stress in his or her life.
Discuss Your Legal Rights with Bakersfield Attorney Mickey Fine
If you are suffering from stress as a result of someone else’s actions or conduct, Contact the Law Offices of Micky Fine to speak with a personal injury attorney and find out if you are entitled to financial compensation.