Lewis, Marenstein,
Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Llp

How can you prove an emotional distress claim?

Not all injuries leave marks on the body. You may experience a personal injury in California which affects not your body but your mind, and the damage it causes may be at least as great as that caused by a physical injury. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to prove an emotional distress injury in court due to the lack of objective evidence such as medical imaging or bodily scarring. 

However, the difficulty of proving a claim of emotional distress should not dissuade you from pursuing the case. If you have sustained an injury, you have the right to seek compensation regardless of whether or not the injury is physical or psychological in nature. According to FindLaw, there are five methods you can use to prove your emotional distress claim. Due to the complexity of emotional distress cases, you will often need to incorporate more than one of these methods.

A note from a medical professional

The more documentation you can provide to support your claim the better. The opinion of an expert tends to carry a lot of weight in court. You can obtain a note either from a psychologist or a medical doctor who has treated you. 

Related bodily harm

Distress that is primarily emotional in nature can have secondary effects on the body in the form of headaches, ulcers or other symptoms. You can help your case if you can show evidence of physical manifestations of your emotional distress. 


The court may deem chronic, recurrent, persistent emotional distress, such as that which occurs in post-traumatic stress disorder, severe enough to warrant compensation. 

Underlying cause

PTSD does not discriminate; it can affect people even after commonplace events, such as a car accident. Nevertheless, the court may find a more dramatic or extreme cause of trauma, such as a terrorist attack or a shooting, a more convincing cause of emotional distress. 


The court will be more likely to rule in your favor if you can demonstrate that you have suffered intense mental anguish as a result of your injury. However, intensity alone will often not be enough to prove your claim, and you will often need to back it up with more concrete evidence, such as a doctor's note or related bodily harm. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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Lewis, Marenstein,
Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Llp

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Woodland Hills, CA 91364

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