Emotional stress can be tough on anyone. It can come from various situations, including abuse, robbery, or witnessing a tragedy.
If you’re in Texas and considering legal action for emotional distress in 2024, this article will help determine if you can pursue a lawsuit.
Compensation won’t fully erase the effects, but it can provide some relief and recognition of your suffering.
Related Search: Personal Injury Lawyer San Antonio Texas
What is Emotional Distress Under US Law?
Under US law, emotional distress is defined as mental suffering or emotional pain and suffering that is caused by someone else’s actions. It is specific type of tort, which is a civil wrong that can be compensated by monetary damages.
To recover damages for emotional distress, the plaintiff must prove three points:
- The defendant’s actions were intentional or reckless.
- The defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff to suffer emotional distress.
- The emotional distress was severe enough to cause the plaintiff to seek medical attention or to have difficulty functioning in their daily life.
The level of emotional distress required for compensation varies by state. Some require intense distress, while others allow for lower levels, but it must exceed mere hurt feelings.
Can You Sue For Emotional Distress In Texas?
No, in Texas, you are not allowed to sue (or file an emotional distress lawsuit) for emotional distress alone, also known as NEID (negligent infliction of emotional distress). However, you may be able to recover damages for NEID as part of a personal injury claim if you have also suffered a physical injury. To do this, you must show that the defendant’s negligence caused the NEID and was severe.
The acronym NEID is used to refer to a type of emotional distress claim that arises when someone’s negligence causes another person to suffer severe emotional distress. In Texas, NEID claims are not recognized as an independent tort, meaning that you cannot sue for NEID without also suffering a physical injury.
However, if you have suffered both a physical injury and NEID, you may be able to recover damages for both as part of a personal injury claim.
In Texas, examples of emotional distress cases that are more likely to be successful are instances related to nursing home abuse, assaults, or threats of violence.
This means that the Texas courts are interested in establishing a connection between the emotional distress and a violent act that has already been convicted or pending conviction.
On the other hand, cases where emotional distress is caused by negligence, such as bus accidents, dog bites, or injuries from faulty equipment, may be heard by the court, but compensation may not be as readily available.
In such cases, it may be necessary to provide stronger evidence to prove the worthiness of compensation. Following the correct process when suing for emotional distress in Texas is essential to ensure that the case is taken seriously and that you get the desired outcome.
How To Sue For Emotional Distress In Texas – 1) Assessing The Claim
The first step in suing for emotional distress is to get your claim assessed by a lawyer. This is vitally important because if you don’t have your claim for emotional distress properly assessed by a lawyer then you might end up attempting to sue and losing the case.
A lawyer will be able to tell you if the person you believe has caused the emotional distress can be held liable for the emotional distress and if attempting to gain a settlement from them first is worth trying first rather than going straight to court.
In some instances, the person who has caused you emotional distress by negligence (in the instance of a dog biting you, for example) will pay over monetary compensation however this is unlikely.
More likely than not, whether your emotional distress is the result of negligence or of direct abuse, you will have to go to court as the other party is not likely to simply pay for the emotional distress they have caused.
A lawyer will also be able to get a figure that you should sue for. They will do this by assessing the financial loss that you have had as a result of the emotional distress that you have gone through.
Pictures of your injuries, medical records and evaluation by mental health experts and a daily journal of how your emotional distress has impacted on your life will not only be useful evidence in a legal case, but they will also be a means of the lawyer being able to assess how much money they can get in compensation for you.
In some instances, clients who want to sue for emotional distress may want more than money for their emotional distress, for example they may want a written apology from the person who caused the emotional distress.
You might equally want a relatively large sum of money. However, your lawyer might think that the amount of money you have in mind for your emotional distress suit won’t be winnable and suggest that you opt for a lower amount.
Getting an amount that is not only winnable but worth the suit may not be down solely to your lawyer.
Case experts might help your lawyer in deciding how much they should sue for on your behalf and the liable amount that the person or organization that is being prosecuted has to offer will also play a part in setting out in their mind what amount of compensation can be expected.
Once your lawyer has properly assessed your claim, agreed that it is winnable and decided to act on your behalf the next stage of suing for emotional distress in Texas begins.
How To Sue For Emotional Distress In Texas 2) Filing Your Case
Once you have hired a lawyer, talked the case through with them and come to a decision as to how much compensation you want and or are aiming for, you can go on to the next stage which is filing your case with the state authorities.
There is a deadline if you are suing someone for emotional distress, which is within two years of the alleged incident. Indeed, it is better to sue sooner than later.
The reason for this is that it looks better to a jury if you decide to pursue your case sooner to the accident rather than later as if you are in a great deal of emotional distress then juries will understand you wanting compensation for that nearer to the date of the incident rather than far long afterwards.
Of course, the person or organisation that you are suing might imply if you sue too quickly that you aren’t doing so from the purest of motives if you file for a suit too soon.
They will claim that your emotional distress isn’t real and therefore you are simply trying to get money out of their client.
That can be distressing in of itself so you have to bear this in mind when filing your case – you will likely encounter a great deal of emotional distress and horrible implications made about you during the course of the trial. This should be always in your mind when preparing your suit.
There are some exceptions to the two-year cut-off date of course. These mainly relate to children who were underage when the incident that caused the emotional distress occurred, in which case the claim can be filed much later than in normal circumstances.
Equally, if you are attempting to sue a government agency then the cut off date is much shorter. This is because the government is more willing to stop themselves becoming embroiled in legal cases than they are allowing people to sue them for something they might have done.
Be sure to talk this over with your lawyer as they will more likely than not know what the deadline for suing a particular government agency is and if you have passed the date to file a claim.
Now that we have explained exactly how and when you should file your claim of emotional distress, let’s move on to how your case should be fought in a courtroom.
How To Sue For Emotional Distress In Texas 3) How To Fight Your Case
Given that you and your lawyer will be prosecuting another individual for emotional distress, the onus is on you to prove two things.
One, that the emotional distress is caused by the incident in which you are accusing the person of causing and two that the amount you are asking for is in line with the incident that happened.
The American judicial system relies on the prosecutor’s ability to prove their case, not the defence to prove it didn’t happen – the defence do not in fact have to prove anything, merely argue that their client is innocent.
This means that there is a great deal of importance placed on being able to prove that what you say happened actually happened.
The need to prove that the emotional distress was caused by the incident in question is of course much easier in cases in which the prosecution’s client has been subjected to proven abuse and or being the victim of a crime that the defendant committed.
If the defendant has already been convicted of the crime that is associated with the case of emotional distress then that means that it is more a matter of getting the amount of compensation you want rather than having to definitively prove that the emotional distress was caused by the crime as the jury will be more willing to accept that your emotional distress is linked to the crime if there has already been a conviction.
It is important when presenting your case to get as much evidence as possible to demonstrate the full extent of your emotional distress.
However, as your lawyer will make clear, you need to ensure that your evidence is selected carefully. Evidence cannot be selected that harms your case rather than helping it.
For example, if you want witness testimony that supports your cause that you have suffered from emotional distress then you need to ensure that evidence is not circumstantial or that the defence can take it apart.
For example, whilst it might seem like a good idea to call someone who you know personally as a witness to detail how they have seen your emotional distress and how you have suffered, the defence will simply say that they would say that as they are your friend or family member and that their evidence is both biased and hearsay.
You need to ensure that the person you call to demonstrate that you have suffered from emotional distress is someone who has medical qualifications or is an expert in their field.
Getting someone like that to speak on your behalf will give your claim legitimacy and ensure that you get the most money possible.
It is important that you have this evidence, as mentioned earlier, before you go to trial to make the case as simple and straightforward as possible to ensure that the jury will be able to understand it, empathise with your plight and award you the best compensation that you can receive.
Now that we’ve covered how to fight your case it is important to look at your case’s conclusion and how you can ensure that you get the highest figure of compensation that is possible.
How To Sue For Emotional Distress In Texas 4) The Conclusion
Now that we have explained how to fight your case it is time to address how your case can conclude satisfactorily.
If you have proved your case and you are shown to have suffered from emotional distress as a result of the actions of the accused, then the compensation that you will get will be determined in one of two ways.
There are two different ways in which juries can determine the amount of money that someone who has suffered from emotional distress should get. They are known as the per diem method and multiplier method.
We’ll deal with the per diem method first.
The Per Diem Method relies on the jury looking at the number of days from the injury to you recovering and the emotional distress linked to that.
The date of injury and its psychological impacts on a day-to-day basis are therefore measured and the amount that you receive will be based on the jury’s assessment of how much emotional distress was caused and how it has affected you financially.
The Multiplier Method is more commonly used in cases of emotional distress, and it relies on the jury assigning a multiplier of between 1.5 and 5 for the severity of your mental anguish and using that as a basis for how much money you will receive.
This of course presupposes that you will win your case. It is always worth noting that whenever you go into a case that there is always a chance that you will lose rather than win.
If that is sadly the case then you will have to review your options and see whether you want to pursue a civil case against the person that you believe has caused you emotional distress or whether or not you can afford to continue with the case.
It is important that you consider these various things because if you don’t properly consider them then you will end up in anguish over whether or not you should attempt to see justice or not.
Why Pursuing A Case Of Emotional Distress In Texas Is Important
There is a reason that pursuing a case of emotional distress is important, not just for you but for the people you love – because it can make your life better.
It can allow you to exercise the pain that you associate with an event that has caused you emotional distress and receive compensation for what you have gone through.
It can also be important for ensuring that the person that caused you emotional distress is unable to do so again. If you don’t pursue a case of emotional distress, then there may be more people who suffer through the actions of the person who caused it for you.
So make sure that if you are in the state of Texas and have suffered it that you make sure to consider taking your case forward.