By Jonathan Vallano
Mental and emotional distress is experienced by many individuals at some point in their lives. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that psychological injury can, and does, result from many forms of negligent conduct. In some cases, this negligent conduct may come in the form of a car accident that leads to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a slip and fall that initiates a chain of panic attacks, or domestic abuse that results in debilitating depression. Despite the difficulty of raising these claims in court, these injuries are frequently adduced by plaintiffs for compensation. Many plaintiffs’ attorneys will readily endorse the notion that succeeding on a psychological injury claim before or at trial is extremely difficult: and they may have a point (much to defense attorneys’ satisfaction). This post discusses what we know about psychological injury claims and how they are perceived and handled by legal decision-makers, as well as suggestions for litigators (both plaintiff and defense attorneys) to deal with these claims before and during trial.