Cochrane Personal Injury Lawyer

Suing for Emotional Distress in Canada

Suing for Emotional Distress in Canada

Emotional distress is often considered inconsequential and insignificant in regards to physical harm. The fact that emotional distress and trauma can last absurdly long periods and might result in permanent psychological damage is often disregarded. A car accident victim might have PTSD long after recovering from the physical injuries. This effect can obstruct your daily life and have other severe consequences.

However, it is possible to take legal action against the reason for your emotional distress. While it might not directly help you heal or recover, bringing such people to justice is important. Also, you should be getting compensated according to your legal rights.

Let’s look at the details about suing someone for emotional distress from the following discussion.

Understanding Emotional Distress

Psychological anguish or emotional distress encompasses the psychological pain and suffering caused by any traumatic experience, including injury, accident, or loss.

Family members of a victim, witnesses, bystander, or anyone traumatized by an event have the legal right to claim emotional distress and file a civil lawsuit. A separate claim of personal injury usually accompanies it.

Symptoms of Psychological Injury

In general, most people can’t proactively recognize and acknowledge psychological injury symptoms. Following are the common signs you should be aware of to identify someone going through psychological trauma, anguish, or injury:

  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks that get triggered by memories of an injury, loss, or traumatic event
  • Generalized anxiety; especially associated with the traumatizing event. (i.e., being anxious about getting near construction sites after having a severe construction injury)
  • Sleep disorders/disturbances and depression
  • Debilitating grief as a result of the loss of a loved one
  • Unstable mood and anger resulting from psychological injuries

Process of Suing for Emotional Distress in Canada

If you intend to sue someone for causing emotional distress, it’s best to communicate and sort the details out with an expert, professional lawyer. You run the risk of being misdiagnosed, which would cause the case to be on shaky grounds if you approach on your own.

A qualified lawyer can help you in the following ways:

Assessment of the Situation

Have the situation assessed carefully and understand your requirements. The lawyer will gather facts and details of the accident or traumatizing event. The medical history, cause of injury, further disruptions in regular life, and other factors will need to be examined. Building the case based on your needs and preferences is easier this way.

Consultation with Experts

Following the initial assessment with your lawyer, you need to go for a consultation with a certified expert to assess your health conditions (physical and psychological).

You should be thorough, open, and honest about these since the expert would typically provide their assessment of you after multiple sessions.

The experts can eventually identify the severity of your trauma and develop a recovery plan and the requirements. Their reports would also include the effect of the trauma or distress on your professional capacities and quality of life.

Build the Case

Once all the assessment information is accumulated, it’s time to collect documents, evidence, and statements from medical professionals, eyewitnesses, family members, and any other parties involved.

All this combined will display a bigger and clearer picture of the circumstances after the traumatizing events. This helps highlight the severity and extent of the trauma and the series of events.

Proof of Injury and Distress

This is possibly the most difficult part of the entire process. Numerous factors are required to prove psychological injury.

The circumstances need to be presented in a manner that allows the prosecution to be able to relate and think from your perspective—approaching like this increases the likelihood of the case shifting in your favour.

Workplace Situations Causing Emotional Distress

Emotional distress cases are mostly based on negligence, assaults, and accidents leading to trauma. Workplace situations leading to trauma are not exactly a common scenario.

However, it’s important to consider that every employee has equal rights to a healthy and safe work environment. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect by employers and co-workers.

Following are some circumstances out of the idea mentioned above ones that may lead to lawsuits for emotional distress:

  • A co-worker is pursuing or stalking you.
  • A manager is mistreating or abusing you, including the deliberate embarrassment of employees in front of co-workers, superiors, or clients.
  • You witness something hurtful or concerning, such as a co-worker being abused.
  • The management forcing you to work out of your comfort zone (i.e., forcing a minority to work with a racist)

These situations are examples of circumstances that usually lead to acute emotional distress or psychological anguish. Experience symptoms such as depression, mood swings, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, fatigue could indicate more severe complications.

Consult a certified professional if you’re experiencing any such symptoms.

Is it Difficult to Sue for Emotional Distress in Small Claims Court?

Emotional distress is much more challenging to prove since they are not as evident and quantifiable as physical injury. Medical reports and bills suffice when there is a need to prove physical injury. However, emotional distress cases are different.

There is no visible or quantifiable injury, making emotional distress cases hard to comprehend. Each person handles trauma and distress differently. An individual may develop anxiety while others may suffer from debilitating anguish.

The opposition lawyer can just say that the injury you are claiming doesn’t exist, or you are simply providing a false statement. Hence, it’s imperative that you get a lawyer experienced in handling emotional distress cases. Otherwise, you would be compromising your chances.

It’s necessary to reach out to the appropriate experts to conduct the assessment and evaluation. You also need to ensure the evidence gathered is undeniable when the existence of psychological anguish, trauma, or distress comes into question.

Read More: How Long After an Accident Can You Sue in Canada

Compensation for Emotional Distress

Determining compensation for emotional distress is difficult since these damages are not financially quantifiable. Hence, the compensations vary in every case. The best approach is to discuss the details and your expectations with your lawyer and determine an ideal compensation you would be satisfied with.


Emotional distress is hard to cope with. If you get burdened with making the case stand on top of that, you’ll only end up in a worse state. It’s better to be aware of the intricacies beforehand and seek help from professionals to plan your course of action if you intend to sue someone responsible for said distress.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sue for emotional distress in Canada?

Yes, it’s possible to sue for emotional distress in Canada. You do need to provide sufficient information.

How do you prove emotional distress?

Proving emotional distress requires assessment and evaluation by professionals, proof of disruption in regular life and any evidence of psychological damage.

What are the 5 signs of emotional suffering?

Following are the 5 signs of emotional suffering:

  • Unexplained personality changes that go against the nature of the person
  • The visible expression of depression, anxiety, anger, or moodiness
  • Aversion to society or isolating oneself
  • Engaging in risky activities and lack of self-care
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and being overwhelmed.

Is it hard to prove emotional distress?

Proving emotional distress is difficult compared to physical injuries since emotional distress is not visible or tangible and does not appear like scars, wounds, or fractures as for physical injury.

Can you get compensation for emotional abuse?

Sufficient evidence, proper legal procedure, and appropriate legal representation can compensate you for emotional abuse. However, the level of compensation usually varies depending on the case and the representation.

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