Can You Sue for Emotional Distress in FL? Expert Advice

Can You Sue for Emotional Distress in FL? Expert Advice

Apr 12 2024

While we often think about the physical impact of an accident, ongoing emotional distress can be equally crippling. But, can you sue for emotional distress? We consider the issue in detail here.

1. Can you Sue for Emotional Distress?

It is possible to sue for non-economic damages due to emotional distress but, according to Florida’s Impact Rule, it should accompany physical injury, as this is easier to prove. To sue for solely emotional damages, a defendant’s actions must be proven as ‘deliberate’ and ‘outrageous’. Exceptions to the Impact Rule also make it possible to sue for emotional distress alone and include –

  • Witnessing the severe injury or death of a loved one
  • Breach of psychologist-patient trust
  • Asbestos inhalation

2. What Counts as Emotional Distress?

Under Florida law, ‘emotional distress’ is psychological suffering in the aftermath of an accident, which may include –

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression/anxiety/stress
  • Feelings of shame or humiliation
  • Etc.

3. Can you Sue for Emotional Damage?

Emotional damages are physiological changes that may include forgetfulness, mood swings, and emotional trauma. When these are experienced as a direct result of someone’s negligent actions, an individual can sue for either the infliction of emotional distress or for pain and suffering. Some emotional damages are easy to prove because they stem from physical injuries, e.g. forgetfulness due to a visible head injury. Others are more difficult, such as ongoing panic attacks.

4. When can you Sue for Emotional Distress?

According to Florida Statutes § 95.11, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years. This includes cases of emotional distress, though often, being able to prove the ongoing implication of issues like anxiety and depression can make an emotional distress claim stronger, especially with the backing of ongoing reports from professionals like counselors. While it’s important to claim in the two-year time frame, then, it’s often worth building a case while you seek expert help for emotional distress.

5. Can you Sue for Emotional Trauma?

It is possible to sue for emotional trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, as part of your damages in Florida, though emotional trauma is also subject to the Impact Rule. However, emotional trauma that’s typically easier for a medical professional to diagnose and treat is often easier to prove in a court of law than emotional distress more generally.

6. Can you Sue for Mental Distress?

Mental distress and emotional distress are often used interchangeably. It is, therefore, possible to sue for mental distress that may include anxiety, depression, and high-stress levels when they accompany physical injury.

7. Can you Sue for Stress and Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety, which can lead to panic attacks, insomnia, and more, are legally treated as emotional distress. Medical reports from treatment paths such as therapy for these issues can help to strengthen any emotional distress case.

8. Can you Sue for Emotional Pain?

Like physical pain, emotional pain that accompanies physical injury is handled according to the Statute of limitations, which makes it possible to take legal action within four years of most accidents, or two years for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Emotional distress can strengthen any personal injury case. Contact your trusted Florida personal injury lawyer to discuss the emotional impact of your injury at 786-750-7872 or online today.