Or, is mental anguish only considered an element of personal injury if it is one of many results from a negligent action causing pain and suffering such as musculature tears and sprains, broken-bones, fractured-bones, and the various types of flesh wounds etc.?
When a person is injured, he or she is entitled to be compensated for the damages that have been incurred. Generally, damages fall into two categories called economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include such things as property damage, medical expenses and lost wages. Noneconomic damages include such things as pain and suffering and emotional distress. All of these damages must be related to the accident or incident. You will be required to prove by competent and credible evidence all of your damages claims.
In general, under California law, a person who did not suffer a physical injury may still be able to claim damages for emotional distress in a negligence lawsuit, but the person must be able to prove the defendant’s negligence caused her/him to suffer “serious emotional distress.” This is known as a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress (“NIED”). There are two types of plaintiffs in NEID cases. There are claims brought by “direct” victims who suffered the serious emotional distress themselves. Then there are claims brought by “bystanders” who witnessed an injury to their close family member and who were aware at the time that their family member was being injured. In both direct victim and bystander claims, the plaintiff must be able to prove the emotional distress suffered was “serious emotional distress.” Serious emotional distress is defined as emotional distress that “an ordinary, reasonable person would be unable to cope with.” (See pattern jury instructions for direct victim and bystander NIED claims, CACI 1620 and CACI 1621.) Whether the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff such that a negligence claim may be brought is a decision the judge needs to make.
My response to this question is based upon general legal principles under California law only, was made in response to a general question posed by a person in California, is not a solicitation to represent any person reading my reply, and does not imply or create any attorney-client relationship with any individual. I maintain an office in California and only practice within the State of California. My response is not intended to address what the law is or may be in any jurisdiction other than California.
Mental anguish is typically a recoverable damage as outlined above. Mental anguish is not the underlying tort, that would be the wrongful conduct that caused the anguish.
My responses on this website do not constitute a consultation, nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship. Only a written retention agreement signed by client and myself will establish an attorney-client relationship. Please do not message or phone me for additional advice as the discussions would be outside this forum and would not be visible to the public (the exception being for serious prospective clients).
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline