CHICAGO EMOTIONAL DISTRESS LAWYERS
Chicago Emotional Distress Lawyer
Emotional distress often plays a big role in the average personal injury claim. But what many people don’t realize is that you can file a lawsuit just for emotional distress, especially if someone else’s negligence is the direct cause. Emotional health is just as important as physical health. Oftentimes, mental and physical health directly influence each other. A traumatic accident can ruin a person’s life emotionally and physically, and victims should be able to recover financial compensation for that suffering. A Chicago emotional distress lawyer can help emotionally traumatized victims recover damages for medical bills, mental health counseling bills, lost wages, and more. Call 312-321-1111 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.
What is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is when someone suffers severe mental and emotional health issues often following a traumatic event. Many emotionally distressed people can also experience physical symptoms and pain. Long-term, intense mental anguish can manifest as disorders such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Agoraphobia – the intense fear of leaving home or being in open places – and other specific phobias
- Separation anxiety
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Major depressive disorder
What is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) is a type of tort that occurs when someone commits a horrendous act in order to intentionally cause psychological injuries. An example of an intentional act would be threatening someone with a major physical injury or wrongful death.
Certain elements must be present in an emotional distress claim in order to qualify as Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. These elements include:
- Outrageous conduct that
- Intentionally and negligently inflicts
- Major emotional trauma (and/or serious injury) upon the victim
If you’re suffering emotionally after a traumatic incident and you meet this criteria, Chicago emotional distress lawyers can help you. Obtaining justice and recovering compensation after the negligent infliction of emotional trauma can feel overwhelming, especially without legal counsel. Allow the experienced legal team at Curcio Law Offices to take on your case.
Emotional Distress vs. IIED
It’s important to note that emotional distress and IIED are different types of cases. Emotional distress is generally connected to physical injuries. Meanwhile, physical injury may not be present in an IIED claim. That’s because in an IIED claim, the defendant’s conduct may not have been physical. IIED claims often entail threats, harassment, emotional manipulation, gaslighting, or even performing acts of violence on someone else in front of the victim.
Generally, emotional distress claims are much easier to prove than IIED claims. You will need strong legal representation from a Chicago emotional distress lawyer for both types of claims.
Common Symptoms of Emotional Distress
Listed below are common symptoms that can be considered emotional distress.
- Uncontrollable crying
- Panic attacks
- Intense fear and anxiety during daily life
- Depression and hopelessness
- Substance abuse
- Self harm
- Suicidal thoughts, desires, and behaviors
- Emotional numbness
- Neglecting basic self care (bathing, eating, brushing teeth, etc.)
- Struggling to go to work/school or perform daily tasks
- Rarely ever leaving the bed or the house
- Social withdrawal
- Memory loss
- Dissociation/derealization episodes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Little to no self-worth
- Avoiding certain people, places, situations, smells, sounds, songs, items, foods, etc.
- Jumpiness or strong reactions to certain people, places, situations, smells, sounds, songs, items, foods, etc.
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sleeping problems such as not sleeping or sleeping too much
- Intrusive thoughts
- Absolutely no interest in enjoyable activities
- Chronic fatigue
- Intense emotions and mood swings
- Rumination (thinking about the same thing over and over again)
- Tense, sore muscles
- Elevated heart rate and/or heart palpitations
- GI problems (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, lack of appetite)
- Frequent headaches
- Skin rashes and hives
Mental health issues like these are often just as serious as physical injuries because they can severely disrupt every aspect of someone’s life. Family members, friends, and partners of emotionally distressed people can also suffer just from seeing their loved one in so much pain. Chicago emotional distress lawyers at Curcio Law Offices recognize the severity of psychological injuries. We want to help victims restore their lives to their pre-accident state with fair compensation and justice.
Major Accidents and Traumatic Incidents That Can Lead to Severe Emotional Distress
Any traumatic event – such as severe accidents or attacks – can cause lifelong emotional distress. Common examples of traumas that can lead to both psychological and physical injuries include:
- Motor vehicle accidents such as car accidents, semi-truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice incidents such as birth injuries and surgical errors
- Experiencing a life-threatening health crisis
- Sexual abuse
- Violent attacks such as shootings, domestic violence, assault and battery, etc.
- Childhood neglect and abuse
- Watching a traumatic event happen (like a violent attack, a car accident, or a death)
- Natural disasters
If someone else’s negligence caused one of the aforementioned incidents – and you have suffered a physical injury and/or emotional distress as a result – a Chicago personal injury lawyer at Curcio Law Offices may be able to help you.
Can You Sue for Emotional Distress?
Yes, you can sue for emotional distress if someone else’s negligent actions or inactions directly caused the emotional distress. In fact, the average personal injury lawsuit will often provide compensation for the emotional distress associated with serious injuries.
The main challenge in an emotional distress claim is proving that the victim’s emotional distress is real, valid, and worth compensation. This is obviously a bit more difficult than proving that physical injuries are real and valid. Someone who is physically injured has obvious wounds, disfigurement, and/or disability. Emotional distress and mental illness are often “invisible,” but still very real and valid. So in order to prove emotional distress, you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.
How to Prove Emotional Distress
In order to recover emotional distress damages after a major accident or traumatic event, you need to prove that mental distress is occurring, because the defendant could easily claim that you’re lying even if you’re not.
An experienced attorney at Curcio Law Offices can help you do this by gathering evidence that shows the duration and severity of the emotional pain. Additionally, we can help you gather evidence to prove fault and to highlight the severity of the accident. Lastly, expert witnesses from medical professionals and licensed counselors can provide insight on whether severe emotional distress has occurred.
Duration of Emotional Distress
Most people experience some level of emotional distress following a physical injury or major accident. However, some injured people’s emotional distress dies down significantly as they heal from their injuries. Emotional distress that only lasts a few weeks immediately following the event may not be enough to build a strong claim against the negligent party.
However, if you have suffered severe PTSD symptoms for months and years following the accident, you may have a really strong claim against the negligent party.
Severity of Emotional Distress Symptoms
Symptom severity is also important to consider in emotional distress claims. In order to have the strongest claim possible, your symptoms must be severe enough to greatly disrupt your life for weeks, months, and years after the accident. Maybe the mental anguish even started manifesting as physical pain and symptoms such as headaches, GI problems, musculoskeletal pain, etc.
For example, maybe you had to drop out of school or quit your job after your traumatic incident because of frequent flashbacks and panic attacks. Maybe you also needed to start taking daily antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications on top of seeing a therapist regularly. Maybe you even needed to be hospitalized in a psychiatric ward. All of this can be proved through medical records. Scenarios like this would help create strong emotional distress claims.
Severity of the Accident or Traumatic Incident
The strongest personal injury claims are filed due to severe accidents. Suing someone for emotional distress caused by a fender bender – instead of a catastrophic car accident, for example – probably won’t be a strong or successful case.
Who is At Fault?
Proving fault in an emotional distress claim can be difficult especially if the victim already suffers from mental health issues. These pre-existing issues could be greatly exacerbated by something like a medical malpractice or car accident case. Therefore, it can be difficult to figure out who is to blame for specific mental health disorders or symptoms.
Generally though, if your emotional distress symptoms began immediately following a traumatic car crash caused by a drunk driver, for example, you could place full blame on that drunk driver.
Getting statements from professionals who have provided mental health or medical treatment is a crucial piece of emotional distress evidence. These professionals could certainly provide insight on symptom duration and severity. Additionally, they could provide proof of psychiatric drugs, hospitalizations, treatments, etc.
Emotional Distress Damages
You can recover compensation specifically for emotional distress in a general personal injury claim. Emotional distress typically falls under the category of non-economic damages because it’s nearly impossible to measure it monetarily.
If you want to just file an emotional distress lawsuit, compensation for solely emotional damages may look different than damages in a typical personal injury lawsuit. For example, you could recover financial compensation for:
- Medical bills, including bills for psychiatric medications and psychiatric hospitalizations
- Mental health counseling bills
- Lost wages if the emotional distress caused you to take time off work
- Loss of earning capacity if your emotional distress prevents you from accomplishing the same job duties as before
- Loss of consortium if your emotional distress causes significant strain in your marriage/partnership
- Loss of enjoyment of life