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Recovering from Emotional Distress Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Kim Staskus Aug. 27, 2018

When you file a personal injury claim, you can seek compensation for emotional distress in addition to compensation for pain and suffering and economic damages like medical bills and lost wages. The amount of money you receive for emotional distress damages depends on the nature of your injuries and the jurisdiction in which you file your claim.

In California, there is no existing standard for determining noneconomic damage awards. Therefore, it’s up to courts to determine reasonable amounts to award for emotional distress.


In general, emotional distress is any long-lasting psychological impact an injury has had on your day-to-day life. This can manifest itself as anxiety, fear, sleep loss, and depression, among many other symptoms.

The severity of the emotional distress matters in a personal injury claim. Most people will experience some degree of emotional distress after suffering an injury. To be compensated for that distress, you must demonstrate that it has had an ongoing effect on your life and is directly related to the injuries you suffered due to the defendant’s actions. If you have a pre-existing condition, you must demonstrate that your emotional distress did not begin until after the accident took place.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress

In most situations, emotional distress in a personal injury claim will result from the defendant’s negligent actions. However, there are some circumstances in which you may include a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). These cases are not as common but may be more lucrative if you can demonstrate that the defendant was “grossly” negligent or intended to cause you emotional harm.

A common example of an IIED case is road rage, which usually involves malicious intent on the part of the at-fault driver.

For more information on how you can recover emotional distress damages through a personal injury claim, speak with an experienced San Jose personal injury lawyer at Staskus Law Firm, P.C. Call (408) 479-5822 or contact us online.