Can You Sue for Emotional Distress?

Though many people think injuries in a personal injury lawsuit have to be physical, the reality is that injuries can be mental or emotional as well. If you have undergone emotional trauma severe enough to cause damage in your life, you may be able to sue the responsible party for compensation.


To understand how suing for emotional distress works, it is helpful to take a look at the types of situations that tend to lead to emotional distress lawsuits.


4 Situations In Which You Can Sue for Emotional Distress

If you have found yourself in one of the following situations, you may have grounds for an emotional distress lawsuit.

Workplace Bullying

Just having a coworker be rude once or twice generally is not enough to successfully sue for emotional distress. However, you may have a case if you have been in an environment where one or more coworkers have repeatedly harassed you and created a hostile work environment.


One example of this is if you have a manager who repeatedly screamed at you in front of others or a coworker who spread damaging photos of you around the office. Bullying that takes on a racial or sexual aspect can result in even more compensation since it can cross the line into discrimination.

Witnessing Severe Injury or Death

If you have PTSD after witnessing someone else’s death or gruesome injury caused by negligence or intentional maliciousness, there are circumstances where you might be able to win damages in a lawsuit. Keep in mind that in these cases, you can normally only sue a person who inappropriately caused the witnessed violence, such as a drunk driver who ran into a person.


Another example might be suing a company after their faulty equipment caused a construction worker to die in front of you. You usually cannot sue the estate of the person who died or a person who caused a death in circumstances where it was an understandable mistake.


Your chances of winning this type of case are also higher if the person who died was a close friend, family member, or another person whose death was likely to affect you.

Wrongful Police Actions

Anytime a person is forced to undergo extreme fear for an unnecessary reason, they may want to consider filing an emotional distress lawsuit. An example of this is having police barge into your home in the middle of the night, being arrested, and then being released because the police mistook you for someone else.


In this sort of case, you may be able to argue that the wrongful actions of another have caused severe enough distress to require compensation.

Mental or Emotional Domestic Violence

If you have had a partner or parent subject you to repeated domestic violence, you may be able to sue them even if none of the violence was physical. This kind of abuse can involve a parent screaming at their child for hours each day or a partner forcing you to call them and check in every 30 minutes while they are away.


Any time domestic violence has been severe enough to affect your career, require therapy, or keep you from living your life normally, you may have a reason to sue.

It is generally easier to sue for emotional distress if you have also suffered from physical harm, but some courts have ruled that it is possible to sue even if no physical injuries have occurred. Because of the complicated nature of these cases, it is important to have professional help.


If you think you may have a reason to sue for emotional distress, consult with a local lawyer to discuss your unique situation. With experienced legal representation, you may be able to recover damages that can help you cover the cost of treatment to improve your emotional health.



I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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