The legal definition of emotional distress is as follows: a highly unpleasant emotional reaction (as anguish, humiliation, or fury) which results from another’s conduct and for which damages may be sought.
Typically, emotional distress claims are very complex in nature, generally due to the lack of physical evidence compared to other abuse claims. That said, emotional stress can be very damaging, and cases can be made to ensure the victim receives damages and a reprieve from this treatment.
What does emotional distress cover?
Emotional distress covers a wide plethora of outcomes, the below is not an exhaustive list but gives an indication:
- Lack of sleep
- Anxiety and depression
- Fear or terror
- By-product feelings linked to physical harm
Building a case
If you are under the impression that you are experiencing emotional distress because of an individual, or perhaps a group of people, the key aspect here is to keep note of key events ensuring to date and write them either by hand or online. Store them somewhere safe and discreet – written accounts of incidents, while not always admissible in court, is a good way to start off your case, and will enable you to build a timeline of events accurately.
Additionally, if you feel as though your distress is of a psychological nature, it can be useful to visit a psychiatrist or a therapist and talk through the situation. Therapists and psychological experts are required by law to keep note of what is discussed in sessions, and while this is confidential – should a court case be ensued, this evidence can also be called upon to back up claims.
Alternatively, if there is a witness to the treatment you are receiving, be this a colleague or a friend who you trust, encourage them to also keep a written account of the instances also. Truthful corroboration can be powerful should witness statements need to be taken.
The more evidence you can gather – be this private messages, emails or witness accounts – the stronger your case will be.
A successful claim
Should the court rule in favour of the plaintiff the damages on offer can vary, dependent on the case and numerous factors.
Typically courts base decisions on the following indicators:
- Money you have lost because of the situation
- Injury to feelings (hurt and distress felt)
- Personal injury (physical impact – can include depression)
- Aggravated damages (any further negative behaviour by the instigator)
Despite this, do remember that each and every situation is different and decided on a case-by-case basis. Because many of the factors are difficult to measure there are no standardised formulas or methodology.
If you feel you are suffering with emotional distress, your first port of call will be talking to an expert legal professional to discuss the situation, any evidence you may have and the different pathways that are open to take. It may well be the case you can settle the issue without a court case, which is often favourable for individuals who do not wish to be put through additional stress during an already unstable time.
If you feel like you have a case and would like to talk to somebody professional, please get in touch with Lysander Law.