Can you make personal injury claims for emotional distress?

When a person sues their employer and makes a personal injury claim, the injury is more often than not a physical one. Every employer has the responsibility of making their workplace a safe place for employees. But the word "safety" has broad connotations and it does not necessarily only refer to physical safety -- employers also have the responsibility to look after the emotional and psychological safety of employees, and if you encounter something like consistent workplace bullying from an employer that causes you emotional distress, this can definitely be a legitimate reason to seek out a personal injury lawyer and make a claim.

The key difference with physical and psychological injuries

When it comes to filing a claim with help from a personal injury lawyer, the key difference with physical and psychological injuries is that psychological injuries are much harder to prove. Say, for example, that you occasionally have to do some heavy lifting at work and this gives you a back injury in your workplace. It is very easy to demonstrate that you had no injury before, that lifting something too heavy caused your back pain, and that if it wasn't for your work situation, you would not have sustained an injury.

This is a difficult scenario for an employer to fight. But when you make a claim that involves emotional distress in the workplace, your employer might simply suggest that you are an emotional person and that everybody endures work stress in some way, so it is much harder to prove that the employer is causing the psychological issues that are damaging your life even if that is the case.

So how can you prove emotional distress in the workplace?

When you endure physical pain, you will have a medical record that can indicate how you have suffered and the pain it has caused. So for a back injury, there will be some record of being admitted to hospital because of the injury, or being prescribed a course of painkillers to help with the pain the injury caused. Similarly with a mental health problem, it is essential that you can prove a problem with your medical records. By the time that you apply for a personal injury claim, you should have already consulted with a doctor about any anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues caused by your employer.

But even with official medical records that demonstrate your emotional distress, your employer could reject the idea that it is their behaviours that caused damage to your emotional well-being. For this reason, it is also good idea to keep a diary that details everything that happens in the workplace to cause you stress. The more specific that you can get in your diary the better, as it is the specifics that will really highlight tangible things at work that cause you distress. Write down exactly what the negative behaviour is, how it affects you at the time, and also how it affects you with living your everyday life. This last point is important because with personal injury claims, you are making a claim because behaviours at work have not just had negative effects in the moment, but because they have caused you distress that prevent you from living in a normal and healthy way, day to day.

Physical and psychological injuries are connected

Finally, it's important to note that physical and psychological injuries are certainly not unconnected. If you have suffered from a severe injury at work, there is a good chance that this has had psychological ramifications for you as well. A good personal injury lawyer will be able to secure you damages for this psychological distress as well as the physical harm you have suffered.