You can sue for emotional distress in Pennsylvania if you were in an accident resulting in severe injuries and mental suffering. You can recover compensation for emotional distress and other damages with a personal injury in Pennsylvania case against the liable party. Click here to learn more about pursuing an insurance claim or lawsuit.
What Is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is a broad term describing the emotional and mental side effects that can accompany an injury. You could seek compensation for various symptoms of emotional distress, including the following:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic headaches
- Chronic tension
- Flashbacks or nightmares
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight loss or gain
For a free legal consultation, call 412-661-1400
When Can You Sue for Emotional Distress in Pennsylvania?
You might be able to sue for emotional distress damages in Pennsylvania in the following situations:
- When you have a severe physical injury. Recovering from a serious physical injury can significantly affect your mental well-being. Dealing with pain, essential medical treatments and side effects, and coping with how your injury affects your life can cause emotional distress.
- When you witness a traumatic event. You could recover emotional distress damages if you witnessed a particularly traumatic or gruesome accident involving a loved one, even if you did not suffer physical harm. For example, you might be able to sue a driver for emotional distress damages if you watched them run over your parent or child with their car.
- When you experience intentional emotional harm. Verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse can cause emotional distress, as can being the victim of fraud. For example, you could seek emotional distress damages for the harm caused by verbal sexual harassment in the workplace, mental/emotional nursing home abuse, deception on the part of a medical provider (i.e., being led to believe you have a condition you do not), or financial exploitation.
- When acting on behalf of a deceased family member. If your loved one suffered a fatal injury, a survival action allows you to seek compensation for damages incurred from the time of the accident until their death. These damages include emotional distress they experienced.
Note that your ability to sue for emotional distress in Pennsylvania after a car accident depends on your auto insurance coverage under the state’s choice no-fault system. If you carry full-tort coverage, you can seek non-economic damages (which include emotional distress) without restriction. However, if you have limited tort, you must meet the severe injury threshold outlined in Pa. C.S.A. § 1702.
How Can You Prove You Suffered Emotional Distress?
To win compensation for emotional distress, you will need to prove that the symptoms of your mental suffering are so severe that they interfere with daily living, reduce your quality of life, or cause monetary losses. Evidence you can use to establish emotional distress includes:
- Medical records showing you suffered a severe, catastrophic, or disabling injury
- Mental health treatment records
- Expert medical testimony
- Proof you’ve received a professional diagnosis of depression, PTSD, anxiety, or other mental health problem since the accident
- Medications prescribed to you for insomnia, depression, or other mental distress symptoms
- Testimony from colleagues, friends, and loved ones about how your mental health symptoms affect your life, ability to work, and overall well-being
- Proof of income loss, medical expenses, and other damages your mental suffering caused
Who Pays for Your Emotional Distress Damages?
Financial liability for your emotional distress damages rests with the party (or parties) whose negligent, reckless, or wrongful actions led to the accident that caused your injuries or trauma. Depending on the accident you suffered, this could be a motor vehicle driver, property owner, or medical provider.
Proving negligence requires demonstrating the following four elements:
- Duty of care. The at-fault party had a legal obligation to avoid harming others. For example, drivers must obey traffic laws and operate vehicles safely to prevent crashes.
- Breach. The liable party did not uphold their duty of care. In a car wreck case, a breach of duty may include speeding, driving drunk, or breaking traffic laws.
- Causation. The at-fault party’s actions directly caused your accident.
- Damages. Your accident resulted in injuries, emotional distress, and financial damages.
An attorney with our firm can help you establish negligence and seek emotional distress damages for harm arising from the following:
- Car, truck, and motorcycle collisions
- Slip and fall accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Workplace accidents
- Dangerous or defective products
- Fatal accidents
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
What Other Personal Injury Compensation Can You Seek?
In addition to emotional distress, you can seek compensation for the following if you or your loved one suffered an injury caused by negligence:
- Current and future medical bills
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Extended nursing services or lifecare
- Lost income, earnings, and benefits
- Future earning capacity loss
- Personal property damages
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mobility loss
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Wrongful death of a loved one
- Survival damages
How Long do You Have to Bring a Claim or Lawsuit in PA?
Per Pa. C.S.A. § 5524, you generally have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in Pennsylvania. If you do not act before time runs out, the court will likely bar you from seeking compensation for emotional distress or any other type of damages, even if you have a solid case.
This deadline will also affect your insurance claims, even if your case does not go to court. An expired statute of limitations will diminish your bargaining power and could lead to a denied or underpaid settlement.
Contact Berger and Green to Start Your Case for Emotional Distress Damages Today
If you want to know if you can sue for emotional distress in Pennsylvania, contact Berger and Green for a free consultation where you can explore your legal options. A team member can help you get started today by answering your questions and connecting you with a personal injury lawyer near you. We take cases on contingency, so working with an attorney with our firm costs you nothing up front or out of pocket.