We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I Prove Emotional Distress?

By Christopher John
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
MyLawQuestions is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At MyLawQuestions, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Emotional distress can consist of fear, grief, shock, humiliation, or some other type of mental anguish. These forms of distress, however, are not enough to recover money damages in court. Instead, you must prove that the distress was also severe and extreme to a level that a reasonable person could not expect to endure it. Most jurisdictions recognize two types of emotional trauma: negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). It is necessary conduct sufficient legal research to understand the type of proof your jurisdiction may require for these claims.

To prove emotional distress, begin by researching the laws specific to your jurisdiction. Laws vary and courts make different interpretations of legal principles. A good first step is to look at statutes defining NIED and/or IIED. You should also review the standard jury instructions for these claims in your jurisdiction because they likely provide the specific legal elements that you need to prove in court. Even if you do not have a jury trial, the instructions can provide you with valuable information on what the court specifically expects you to prove.

The second step is to research the case law in your jurisdiction concerning NIED and IIED. Case law means prior court decisions dealing with emotional distress. These decisions provide information on how courts interpreted the statutes concerning NIED and IIED. These cases establish precedents, which mean they are binding upon trial courts in the relevant jurisdiction. If you understand how courts have ruled on matters concerning emotional pain in the past, it may help you to prove your case in court.

If you base your claim on NIED, for example, your jurisdiction may require medical proof. A physician or a psychiatrist may be able provide expert testimony about your physical and/or mental condition. Such testimony can serve as medical proof of emotional distress. Experts may be able to testify about your specific physical conditions such as depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, nausea, or miscarriage.

If you base your claim on IIED, medical proof of emotional distress may not be necessary. Not all jurisdictions require proof of physical illnesses. Indeed, jurisdictions may not necessarily require a mental examination to prove emotional pain. In some situations, witnesses such as friends, family members, and others may testify about unusual changes in your behavior, which may be sufficient evidence in your jurisdiction.

After conducting appropriate research on emotional distress claims in your jurisdiction, your next step is to prepare your complaint. The complaint contains the claims you are making against the defendant, i.e., the alleged responsible party. You need to list each claim or allegation that you must prove in court. You can obtain sample complaints for your jurisdiction online or through a law library which you can use as a model when drafting your complaint.

It is almost always best to hire a lawyer experienced with emotional distress cases rather than try to handle this on your own. Laws are complex and many unexpected issues can arise for a layperson. Courts also expect you to comply with rules of procedure and rules of evidence. If you lack knowledge in these areas, you could lose your case despite the merits.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.