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Let’s say you got into a bad car accident because of a drunk driver. You suffer emotional distress, painful physical injuries, and a sharp decline in your mental and emotional health. When you file your personal injury claim, you can also sue for emotional distress. Working with an experienced emotional distress lawyer is the best way to ensure that the losses related to your emotional trauma are covered. At Lipton Law, we serve as staunch advocates for our clients and their mental health. We believe that victims of serious physical injuries can also suffer serious psychological injuries. If you need an attorney who truly cares and who will fight for your rights, call Lipton Law at 248-557-1688 to schedule your free consultation.

Can You Sue for Emotional Distress in Michigan?

Yes. Emotional distress is one of many forms of non-economic damages that personal injury victims can file a lawsuit for. In fact, it is a very important element of certain cases, such as those involving dog bites, medical malpractice, drunk driving accidents, and many others. Physical injury isn’t the only form of suffering that victims can suffer as a result of accidents and injuries.

It’s important to work with a personal injury law firm that has extensive experience handling emotional distress claims. At Lipton Law, our Michigan personal injury lawyers are here to fight for full and fair compensation after your accident, which includes emotional and mental anguish. You deserve compensation for the emotional trauma that you suffered. Contact an emotional distress attorney with Lipton Law to schedule your free case evaluation today.

Emotional Distress Lawsuit

emotional distress lawyers

In personal injury claims, victims often suffer from more than just physical injury. Michigan courts, as well as most other courts, recognize that emotional and mental distress are valid damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Emotional distress damages can be sought in civil lawsuits. In other words, you can file an emotional distress claim for mental illness, mental anguish, and other forms of emotional trauma as long as you have enough evidence.

Many people think that you must have also been physically injured in order to file an emotional distress claim. This is not always the case. In cases of sexual abuse, defamation, or other non-injury cases, you can sue for emotional distress rather than physical injuries.

What Is Emotional Distress?

According to Cornell Law School, emotional distress is defined as, mental suffering as an emotional response to an experience that arises from the effect or memory of a particular event, occurrence, pattern of events or condition. Below, we will outline the various forms of emotional distress that you and your personal injury lawyer can seek financial compensation for.

Pain and Suffering

An insurance company will be well-acquainted with payouts for pain and suffering after car accidents, pedestrian accidents, or other personal injury cases. This is a more general form of emotional distress damage, as it doesn’t necessarily require a diagnosis. The most concrete evidence you can use to support your pain and suffering claim is your doctor’s notes that they wrote related to your medical treatment.


Many personal injury victims develop anxiety disorders as a result of their accidents. These disorders can be characterized by terror, fear, intense anxiety, newfound phobias, insomnia, sweating, nervousness, and even an upset stomach. Importantly, anxiety is a common side effect in traumatic brain injury cases.

Panic Attacks

People suffering from panic attacks often experience sudden, uncontrollable, and terrifying symptoms. Some victims report feeling like they are dying or like something terrible is about to happen. Examples of events that can lead to panic disorders include truck accidents, sexual abuse, and criminal cases. Symptoms of panic attacks include shaking, sweating, increased heart rate, chest pain, and extreme fear.


Nearly any type of injury or personal injury claim can result in depression. Catastrophic injury victims aren’t the only ones who suffer from depression and anxiety. In fact, the National Library of Medicine reports that depression is one of the most common psychiatric disorders that people develop after suffering an injury. It is more common in cases where someone’s injury affects their daily living. For example, some people can no longer perform the same activities as they once could, or maybe they have trouble sleeping. Even worrying about lost wages can affect someone’s mental state. Some of the most prominent symptoms of depression include hopelessness, suicidal ideations, changes in mood, guilt, and even difficulty concentrating.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another common mental health disorder that can develop after a particularly traumatic event or accident. It can affect anyone of any age after any kind of traumatic event. It can also develop well after a traumatic event occurs. The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder vary greatly from person to person.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED)

NIED is a concept in personal injury cases that involves the defendant acting with such outrageous conduct that the plaintiff can sue them for emotional distress. In other words, their negligence was so egregious that it caused the plaintiff mental anguish or emotional distress. NIED lawsuits are unique from other personal injury claims in that they don’t require physical injuries. Instead, the lawsuit aims to recover compensation solely for emotional distress damages. In order to have a successful NIED claim, you must prove the following elements.

  • The defendant’s negligent actions resulted in something making contact with the plaintiff, no matter how minor the contact was.
  • Secondly, the defendant must have been physically close enough to the plaintiff to put them at risk of imminent physical injury. The plaintiff must have felt fear of injury.
  • Lastly, it must be foreseeable that the negligent conduct of the defendant could have caused the plaintiff emotional distress.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

IIED differs from NIED in that the defendant intentionally acts in such an extreme manner or with such recklessness that the plaintiff suffers from severe emotional distress. Let’s say that Person A is angry with Person B because of a money-related issue. Person B owes Person A a significant sum, and Person A is tired of waiting for payment. If person A approaches Person B and threatens them with physical harm if they don’t pay, this could result in an IIED case. This is because Person B suffered from extreme mental distress after the threat to their safety.

Emotional Distress Examples

emotional distress lawsuit

We mentioned some of the broader categories of emotional distress above, but what about more specific examples? Emotional distress claims cover a wide range of specifics, such as the following.

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • PTSD
  • Humiliation or embarrassment
  • Behavioral or cognitive changes after a head injury
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Distress over an injury or disability
  • Feelings of frustration or anger
  • Other forms of psychological trauma
  • Loss of consortium

How Can I Prove Emotional Distress?

Although your personal injury attorney will handle the gathering of evidence to prove your distress, it’s important for you to understand the elements that will help you prove it. Let’s say that the plaintiff suffered serious injuries in a Michigan truck accident. Your entire life has changed because of what you experienced during and after that accident. Below, we outline some of the ways in which your personal injury lawyer will show your distress.

  • Cause and effect: If you have a routine in your daily life, outline how this routine changed and when it changed. You can also gather letters from friends, family, and coworkers to testify about your suffering. Gathering medical records is also essential as a form of evidence.
  • The intensity of the distress: If you suffer from very intense, long-term distress, the court is much more likely to award you compensation.
  • Physical symptoms: As we stated before, psychological issues often have physical symptoms associated with them. Provide medical evidence of these symptoms to support your claim.
  • The trigger or cause: If the event that caused your distress was minor, the courts are less likely to award compensation than if you experienced a very disturbing event.
  • Medical validation: Gather statements from the medical professionals who diagnose and treat your conditions. They can attest to the severity of your emotional or mental anguish.

Evidence of Emotional Distress

If you can provide documentation or evidence of the following, it can help to greatly strengthen your case and give you a better chance at compensation.

  • Difficulty adjusting the person’s life at home or school
  • Excessively drinking, smoking, or drug use
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
  • Headaches and stomachaches
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Constant worrying or feeling guilty for seemingly no reason
  • Isolating from others
  • Having little to no energy

Can I File a Claim for Emotional Distress if There Is No Injury?

Yes. It is true that most personal injury claims require proof of some form of physical injury before recovering compensation. However, recent rulings have allowed victims to claim compensation for emotional distress even when they suffered no injuries. Examples of two case types in which this is possible are sexual abuse cases and defamation cases.

How Are Emotional Distress Damages Calculated?

emotional distress attorney

You likely already know that economic damages are far easier to calculate than non-economic damages. Because emotional distress is one of many forms of non-economic damages, it takes a skilled personal injury attorney to quantify its value. There are two popular methods that personal injury attorneys use to quantify emotional distress, which we list below.

  • Multiplier method: An experienced attorney will be able to calculate the current and future financial losses resulting from your emotional distress. They will then apply a multiplier between 1 and 5 according to the severity of your distress. This will give you a quantifiable amount to value your claim.
  • Per diem method: The per diem rate involves assigning a daily rate of compensation for your distress. This rate comes from the severity of your distress, as well as the number of days that you experience the distress. You will need to support this with medical records and expert witness testimony.

Both methods benefit very highly from having as much evidence as possible to support your claims. Work closely with your emotional distress lawyers to gather all the necessary evidence to prove your emotional distress.

Compensation for Emotional Distress

Victims can recover certain types of compensation for emotional distress, including economic damages, non-economic damages, and even punitive damages. We outline these below.

Economic and Non-Economic Damages

Economic damages include easily quantifiable losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and even fees for legal services in some cases. Non-economic damages include all the types of emotional distress that we mentioned previously. These are the two most common categories of compensation in any personal injury case.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are rarely awarded by courts, as they are reserved for cases of particularly heinous acts. These damages aim to punish the defendant for their actions, as well as to deter others from acting in the same way in the future.

How Do I Win a Claim for Emotional Distress?

emotional distress attorneys

While there is no concrete answer to this question, our personal injury attorneys abide by a certain set of best practices when it comes to emotional distress lawsuits. However, there are also certain steps that you can take in order to give your case the best possible chance of success.

  • Minimize your losses as much as possible. This involves seeking treatment for your injuries and emotional distress as much as possible. Taking these steps will help you recover, increase your chances of a successful claim, and provide crucial evidence for your case.
  • Report the incident and get a copy of the incident report. For example, if you were in a car accident, we recommend getting a copy of the police report, as well as reporting the accident to your insurance company.
  • Contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you start working with an attorney, the sooner we can begin the claims process. Additionally, having an attorney at your side will ensure that any legal issues you run into are quickly resolved.
  • Identify and abide by your state’s statute of limitations. In Michigan, plaintiffs have three years from the date of injury to file a personal injury claim.
  • Work with your attorney to gather sufficient evidence to support your claim. This includes medical records, medical bills, expert witnesses, testimonies from family members, and much more.

Contact the Emotional Distress Lawyers at Lipton Law

At Lipton Law, we understand how overwhelming it can feel to tackle an emotional distress lawsuit on your own. Luckily, you don’t have to. Our Michigan law firm is dedicated to prioritizing the needs of our clients above all else, and we will fight tooth and nail to recover the compensation you deserve for your suffering emotionally and physically. To schedule your free consultation with us and establish an attorney-client relationship, please call our office at 248-557-1688 today. We will help you take legal action to hold the liable party accountable for your losses.