Change location v

How much can I sue for emotional distress?

It’s common to feel stress before or after a big event. Most stressful feelings will resolve themselves over time or after the event is over. However, sometimes the event can have a significant impact on someone’s mental health, plaguing them with long-lasting feelings of suffering and distress. 


Emotional distress can come from many different places. Mental suffering is one of the hardest injuries to diagnose because it isn’t always easy to see. It can come in the form of anxiety, depression or even manifest into physical illness. Acknowledging it within one’s self as well as noticing symptoms in loved ones can be an essential piece to reaching emotional synergy. 


People deal with mental harm in many different ways and it is important to acknowledge the circumstances in which the event or series of events affected their lives. Whether the emotional harm was inflicted intentionally or unintentionally, filing an emotional distress claim should feel like an empowering first step toward recovering from the personal injury. 


Emotional distress explained

Emotional distress is a reaction to an experience that arises from the effect of memory or a specific event, occurrence, condition or pattern of events. When it comes to suing for emotional distress, the claim will be split and determined based on two categories: intentional infliction of emotional distress or negligent infliction of emotional distress. 


You may notice emotional distress also categorised as psychological injury. You can become a victim of this type of injury from:


  • Your workplace.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Medical complications.
  • Recreational accidents.
  • Travel accidents. 
  • Public area accidents.
  • Car crashes.


Even though there may not be physical signs of mental illness, anyone who was personally injured, witnessed the injury or is personally close with someone who is dealing with a traumatic event is eligible for emotional distress compensation. For example, someone could be an uninjured passenger in a vehicle involved in a car crash and develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that now affects their ability to comfortably drive. You can make a compensation claim against your spouse if they caused you severe emotional distress. The criteria for cases involving a loved one (including a spouse or family member) are the same as filing other emotional distress lawsuits. 


Another type of emotional distress term you may see is pure psychological injury or nervous shock. A person may experience this type of injury as simply being an eyewitness to an accident, hearing about a loved one who died in an accident or seeing a loved one in the intensive care ward. 


Unlike physical injuries, emotional damage doesn’t have obvious signifiers like a broken bone, a lost limb or damaged joints (although these could trigger the emotional trauma). At the same time, not everyone who experiences emotional distress will exemplify the same symptoms. Depression, anxiety and PTSD can feature some of the same indicators such as:


  • Insomnia.
  • Long and unexplained periods of fatigue. 
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Chronic anxiety or fear.
  • Irritability.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family.


In any of these cases, if you can establish a breach of personal responsibility or duty of care, the resulting damages include expenses, lost wages and future economic losses. The result can be a hefty payout. 


Intentional inflection of emotional distress

Many psychological injuries are inflicted accidentally. There are some cases where psychological stress was intentionally imposed. These instances include situations where you can recall the other party purposefully caused trauma through predetermined actions. 


Road rage is one instance where the defendant would not be able to disprove their actions were not intentional. It is not likely to behave violently towards another driver accidentally. 


The first step is to seek out medical attention. Begin the healing process and the road to compensation with a piece of professional advice and diagnosis. A medical professional can help you find coping mechanisms to go about your day-to-day, but this also helps you file a claim. With medical proof of injury, compensation can be awarded. Once you start treatment, medical evidence and exhibited dedication to recovery can help you win compensation as well. 


How much can you sue for?

Like most cases involving injury, each claim is different and will warrant a varying level of compensation depending on several factors. The level of your psychological injuries is a major part of earning compensation. 


Compensation is made to help supplement payouts to cover your medical treatments and job loss. The difference between a permanent injury and one that will resolve over a short amount of time will determine how much you will earn. Similarly, the duration of your injury can generate higher or lower compensation because your medical expenses will be stretched over a longer or shorter amount of time. 


Each state has its own limit to non-physical damage compensation that affects how much a victim can earn for emotional distress. On average, Australian psychological distress victims earn around $350,000 or more. 


Earning compensation is only possible with proper documentation and filing within the statute of limitations. Some states allow for more time to file than others (in NSW, you need to file within six months of the traumatic event, whereas SA gives you up to three years). After a traumatic event, it’s important to seek help right away and start a journal of your experiences. Proof of emotional distress will help you win the maximum compensation amount for your damages. 


Protecting your identity

In some emotional distress cases like abuse in the workplace or in the home, victims may fear exposure and further abuse if they come forward about their experiences and seek reconciliation. The High Court in Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Lenah Game Meats Pty Ltd (2001) 208 CLR 199 was the country’s first attempt to protect the plaintiff’s identity if they come forward with a claim. The previous law offered no protection of personal information and privacy. 


As it currently stands, there is no absolute right to privacy in Australian law, nor a clearly recognisable tort of invasion of privacy remedy available. This means several things; that:


  • There is no limitation to a person’s private affairs.
  • Publications have the right to place people in a false light.
  • Writers can publish embarrassing private facts for the public to read.


Gerard Malouf & Partners is staffed with experts in the field of emotional distress and will handle your case with care. We offer advice and guidance to the survivors of abuse and emotional distress in a way that relieves the stress of dealing with the legal side of the matter. All members have been in the law business for a long time and are trained to care for psychological trauma victims compassionately and confidently. 


GMP is here to help you earn compensation

Dealing with daily emotional stress is hard enough, adding on a lengthy legal process is another matter completely. Gerard Malouf & Partners lawyers are available to help you file a claim as quickly and quietly as possible. We’ve seen the ins and outs of emotional distress claims and can ensure you are prepared for every step of the way. 


Coming to our law office for a personal matter such as this, we will take the utmost care of your case and ensure we handle it as much confidentially as possible. 


Gerard Malouf & Partners law professionals specialise in emotional distress claims and we are the leading law firm for this type of case filing. If you’re ready to take back control of your psychiatric injury, give a Gerard Malouf & Partners professional a call today

Free Resources
Download our free guide to receiving maximum justice from your case

Download your guide today for free and make sure that you are aware of the facts and information you need to maximise your damages claim.


Review Our Recent Case Summaries

About Us
Gerard Malouf & Partners have provided friendly, experienced legal advice to communities across Australia for over 35 years. Our Personal Injury Lawyers have taken on ten’s of thousands of cases and we are proud to have won billions of dollars for our clients.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.

Your location is currently: