A victim of intentional or negligent actions caused by another person can sue for emotional distress. For example, the plaintiff could sue the defendant for emotional distress after witnessing the injury of a family member.

Mental anguish is similar to suing for emotional distress because the plaintiff suffers psychological injury, not physical one. However, it is usually connected to another type of personal injury tort claim other than emotional distress.

In a civil lawsuit, a plaintiff can bring a mental anguish lawsuit against the defendant if they experienced significant sadness, anxiety or distress. Claims that give rise to a claim for mental anguish include wrongful death, disfigurement, serious bodily injury, or the death or injury of a family member.

What is Mental Anguish?

Mental anguish implies a high level of mental distress and pain. The pain is not physical, but emotional.

This emotion is not simply resentment, embarrassment, disappointment, or anger. Suing for mental anguish refers to suffering from emotional disturbances:

  • Anxiety;
  • Distress;
  • Fear;
  • Grief;
  • Trauma; and/or
  • Depression.

How Do Mental Anguish Lawsuits Arise?

They usually arise from another type of tort that can cause serious emotional distress, such as medical malpractice, defamation, or battery.

A plaintiff can usually sue for mental anguish if it would be reasonable for the defendant’s actions to cause mental anguish. For instance, a plaintiff can sue for mental anguish if:

  • The defendant held a gun to the plaintiff’s head;
  • The defendant threatened serious physical bodily harm; or
  • The defendant swung a baseball bat at the plaintiff.

What Kinds of Damages Can I Receive by Suing for Mental Anguish?

If successful in a mental anguish lawsuit, a plaintiff can receive non-economic damages. Non-economic damages, or general damages, are awarded to a plaintiff in personal injury cases.

These damages do not reimburse the plaintiff for out-of-pocket expenses such as medical bills. Instead, they are provided to a plaintiff to cover damages that are not easily calculated, such as:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Loss of enjoyment;
  • Loss of reputation;
  • Disability such as PTSD; and/or
  • Long term effects of an injury.

Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer Regarding Suing for Mental Anguish?

If you have suffered from a mental anguish, you should consult with a qualified personal injury attorney to understand your legal rights. You may have a legal claim related to a diagnosis for post-traumatic stress disorder.