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How to Sue for Emotional Distress

Bone fracture foot and leg on male patient with splint cast and crutches during surgery. sue for emotional distress

If you have suffered emotional distress that is affecting your quality of life, you might be considering filing a lawsuit for emotional distress. Even minor accidents can be scary and lead to anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and other emotional problems. Long-term emotional distress can have a negative impact on almost every aspect of a person’s life. In Nevada, personal injury law allows you to sue for emotional distress. Proving emotional distress in court can be challenging, and it is best to seek the help of an experienced attorney.

Bone fracture foot and leg on male patient with splint cast and crutches during surgery. sue for emotional distress

What Is Considered Emotional Distress in Nevada?

Emotional distress, also known as “mental anguish,” is an adverse emotional and mental reaction to an action taken by another person or company. This type of psychological harm can be extremely detrimental to your personal well-being, business, or public image. It can manifest in the form of trauma, shock, depression, or difficulty performing daily activities as a result of a particular mental state of distress.

Emotional Distress Laws in Nevada

Emotional distress can be classified as either negligent or intentionally inflicted, depending on the cause. Regardless of the classification, Nevada recognizes emotional distress as a legal cause of action. As a result, there are legal avenues available to those seeking damages and monetary compensation for emotional injuries.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Under Nevada law, intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when a plaintiff experiences severe distress as a result of the intentional and wrongful actions of a defendant.

To establish a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a plaintiff must prove three things – (1) The defendant engaged in conduct that was extreme and outrageous. (2) The defendant intended to cause emotional distress or acted with reckless disregard for causing such distress. (3) The plaintiff suffered emotional distress as a proximate result of the defendant’s actions.

In Nevada, the severity of emotional distress is the central issue in cases of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Minor grievances do not qualify as sufficient evidence. Extreme and outrageous conduct, such as abuse of power or unwelcome sexual advances, can cause intentional infliction of emotional distress. There’s no specific formula for compensation for these cases.

Typically, claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress are filed in conjunction with other torts such as sexual harassment, assault and battery, fraud, or a particularly damaging violation of Nevada’s civil law against defamation.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Negligent infliction of emotional distress is a legal claim in Nevada for those who witness their close family member’s injury or death, or for those who suffer significant emotional harm due to a negligent act.

In Nevada, the elements required for a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress include the following:

  • An accident or injury was caused by the defendant’s negligence.
  • The plaintiff was either the injured person or someone closely related to the injured person.
  • The plaintiff witnessed the accident or injury.
  • The plaintiff suffered emotional distress as a result of witnessing or experiencing the accident.

In Nevada, a lawsuit can be filed for negligent infliction of emotional distress by a victim of a wrongful act, a bystander who witnessed an accident and was closely related to the victim. It can also be filed by a close family member who was aware of both the death of a loved one and that mortuary services were performed in case of the negligent handling of a deceased person’s remains.

To qualify as closely related to a person under the emotional distress law in Nevada, you should be an immediate family member of the person or related by blood or marriage, or the nature and quality of the relationship reflects an actual closeness.

Damages claimed are usually economic, which have a dollar value, and non-economic, which compensate you for non-monetary losses, such as pain and suffering. A lawsuit for emotional distress involves non-economic damages.

Types of Emotional Distress Recognized in Nevada

Experiencing stress symptoms before or after a crisis is common. While most symptoms are temporary, for some they may last for weeks or even months, straining relationships. Nevada recognizes various types of emotional distress.


Anxiety is a strong feeling of fear or nervousness that can persist even when there is no actual threat. If this persists over a long time, it may indicate an anxiety disorder, which can negatively impact one’s ability to focus, sleep, digest, and engage in other aspects of daily life. Anxiety disorders can be caused by traumatic events.

Panic Attacks and Panic Disorders

Panic attacks and panic disorders are a result of severe anxiety that can occur after a traumatic event. They can produce various symptoms such as chest pains, shortness of breath, elevated heartbeat, and overwhelming terror.


Depression is more than just feeling sad. It is a mood disorder that can lead to intense feelings of helplessness, sadness, and disinterest in life. A traumatic event and its aftermath can be a trigger for depression, which is a serious condition that requires proper attention and care.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that can affect anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. It often involves flashbacks, which are vivid mental recreations that cause the person to relive the traumatic experience.

Steps to Sue for Emotional Distress in Nevada

If you are considering suing for emotional distress, the initial step is to document your condition and start gathering evidence to support your claim. Once you have collected the necessary evidence, it is advisable to seek the guidance of an attorney who will review your case and advise you on the process going forward.

Seek Medical Attention

It’s important to prioritize your health by seeking medical attention for any mental suffering. Proper treatment can improve your condition. Seeking medical attention can also provide evidence for a lawsuit. A report from a doctor or psychologist can help demonstrate emotional distress, which is why seeking medical attention immediately after an incident is imperative. Pre-accident medical records can also help pinpoint the source of emotional distress.

Document the Cause of Emotional Distress

If you want to sue for emotional distress, it is essential to document your condition, including any physical symptoms and associated injuries. Physical manifestations of your mental suffering can make your case much stronger.

Consult an Attorney

Emotional distress can significantly impact your life, but it’s a claim that can be difficult to prove and fact-intensive. A personal injury lawyer in Nevada can help you understand the laws related to emotional distress and assess whether you have a valid case. An attorney can help to collect evidence, prepare a lawsuit, and help you to get compensation for your suffering. An attorney can also help you to avoid common mistakes in a personal injury case.

Initiate the Legal Process

With the assistance of your lawyer, your next course of action should be to gather evidence to support your claim of emotional distress. Once you have the necessary evidence, you and your attorney can initiate legal proceedings by either going to trial or negotiating a fair settlement.

Compile Evidence and Witness Testimonies

Emotional distress symptoms can be harder to prove compared to physical injuries. X-rays, lab tests, and outward symptoms can confirm physical injuries, but emotional distress is often concealed or difficult to quantify. If you’re suing someone for emotional distress after an accident, your lawyer will need to gather various types of evidence to prove it. Proving emotional distress can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have physical injuries. Your lawyer may use different types of evidence to support your case, such as:

  • The documentation related to mental health treatments or therapies, along with medical records and testimonies.
  • Testimony from therapists or other treating providers.
  • Records that show the use of prescription medications for emotional problems, such as depression or anxiety.
  • Evidence of missed work or school due to mental health issues.
  • Statements from people who know you personally.
  • Journal entries that document your recovery.

Witness testimony is crucial in legal proceedings. You can try to find witnesses who can speak to the accident’s severity and how it affected your life. Family, friends, doctors, or colleagues can all provide testimony in your favor.

Settlement Negotiations

Once a court date has been selected, the trial proceeds, and concludes with a verdict. A settlement offer may be presented at any point, prior to filing the lawsuit or during pretrial preparations, even while the jury is deliberating.

A settlement is an agreement reached between both parties to resolve the matters in dispute. With the assistance of your attorneys, you and the person responsible for the emotional distress will negotiate a compensation amount. Your attorney should know what the average payout for a personal injury claim is. Once a settlement is agreed upon, the lawsuit will be withdrawn, and there will be no further need for a trial or seeking judgment.

The George Bochanis Injury Law Offices was established in 1985. Before opening his office, Mr. Bochanis spent years representing major insurance companies in litigation cases and prior to that was a law clerk to a prominent local district court judge. Our offices have grown from a small one person setting to having its own well known office location on South Ninth Street in Downtown Las Vegas with 15 employees.

Years of Experience: More than 28 years
Nevada Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Nevada State Bar Federal Court of Nevada, 3rd Circuit

Top-Rated Injury Attorneys Fighting for You

Since opening our doors in 1985, the accident lawyers at the George Bochanis Injury Law Offices have been committed to helping injury victims get full compensation after slip and fall accidents, motor vehicle crashes, workplace injuries, and other personal injuries.

We’re here to listen. Schedule your free consultation with an injury lawyer today.