The Evolution of Emotional Distress Claims in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Laws in Canada are subject to change and evolution. This includes laws associated with personal injury lawsuits in the country. A personal injury lawyer consistently finds his or her self faced with the evolution of laws involving accidents that give rise to injuries and damages.
One aspect of personal injury law that has been evolving in recent years is that associated with emotional distress claims. This has resulted in more emotional distress claims being pursued by a personal injury lawyer.
Overview of an Emotional Distress Claim
At the heart of an emotional distress claim is that the action or inaction of a third party resulted in an individual suffering some type of recognizable emotional or mental health disorder. Depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or PTSD represent three of the most common types of mental health problems lying at the heart of emotional distress claims in Canada.
Physical Harm and Emotional Distress
Historically, in Canada and other Commonwealth nations, a claim for emotional distress needed to be coupled with one for physical injury. In other words, in order to bring a claim for emotional distress in the first place, a person needed to have suffered a physical injury as well. The physical injury and emotional or mental health issue were intertwined as a matter of law,
Ultimately, in court decisions, the mandatory requirement that a physical injury exist to support a claim for emotional distress began to be reconsidered. At this juncture in time, in some instances, a person is now able to pursue a claim for emotional distress of mental anguish without any associated physical injury.
Because of the uncoupling of physical injury and mental or emotional distress, the need for expert testimony is even more important. In order to prevail in a case involving mental anguish, a personal injury lawyer arranges for a respected expert to testify about a client's mental health or emotional state and status. The expert must be able to provide compelling testimony about the nature of an emotional or mental health condition that arose from an accident or some other type of incident caused by a third party.
There is even a cadre of personal injury attorneys who focus their practices more specifically on assisting clients that have developed some sort of mental health or emotional problem as the result of the negligent conduct of a third party. These lawyers tend to be more closely connected to the experts necessary to provide testimony and other evidence in support of this type of claim.