October 31, 2018 | 1499 ViewsSuing For Emotional Distress Australia

Emotional trauma can have a devastating impact on a person’s quality of life and is a key factor in many personal injury claims. If you’re thinking of suing someone for emotional distress, Carter Capner Law can offer legal advice on psychological injury claims.


In most cases, yes.

This commonly arises in the workplace where the events complained of do not constitute reasonable management action, eg bullying

An employer is entitled to investigate employee’s circumstances and – even if the employer has come to an incorrect conclusion – instigate disciplinary action. But it must investigate and counsel the employee in a reasonable manner. Conducting disciplinary action by telephone without any forewarning and without giving the employee opportunity to respond will – if psychological injury results from the episode – usually be something for which the employer is responsible

Another example of a “pure psychological injury” is “nervous shock” which can occur from being an eye-witness to a serious accident where someone is fatally injured; or for family members of someone killed in an accident, from being told of it and having to deal with its aftermath, eg in the intensive care ward or the identification of the deceased’s body.

A train driver who witnesses a suicide on rail tracks can also sue the deceased’s estate for the resulting “pure psychological injury”.

In all cases – if breach of duty and causation can be established – the resulting damages include expenses (past and future), lost wages and future economic loss. The resulting damages ordered to be paid can be very large.


Psychological injuries – whether or not the condition arises from a physical injury – can involve a wide range of symptoms.

Unlike physical injuries like broken bones, disc injuries or damaged joints, diagnosing and treating psychological damage is not always a straightforward process.

Emotional trauma comes in many forms, and not everyone who sustains a psychological injury will experience the same set of symptoms. Depression, anxiety, adjustment disorder, post-traumatic stress can feature some or all of the following:-

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

If you think you may have suffered emotional trauma, seeking medical attention can help clarify the nature of your injury.

Compensation claims involving psychological injuries must be supported by proof of negligence for compensation to be awarded. In addition to supporting your recovery, seeking medical treatment for your injuries helps establish the requisite medical evidence in support of your claim.


Psychological injury damages vary according to your unique circumstances. The following factors will typically influence the amount of compensation you are entitled to:

  • The severity of your injury
  • Some psychological injuries can result in permanent incapacitation as opposed to short duration physical trauma. Cases involving severe psychological injuries will generate higher compensation because of the higher ‘loss of amenities of life’.

  • The duration of your injury
  • Long-lasting psychological injuries will generate higher compensation because of the lengthy periods of time off work and will entitle you to a more substantial payout.


    Many psychological injuries are sustained in accidental circumstances. However, in some cases it is possible to claim for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. This applies to situations where you can prove the other party caused trauma through deliberate actions.

    Road rage is a common example of causing intentional distress. It’s not possible to accidently behave violently towards another road user, so this kind of behaviour can be classified as deliberate for which in some cases “exemplary” damages can apply.


    Yes. If you decide to sue for compensation, having a record of your symptoms and any associated triggers will make your claim easier to verify. Be sure to take note of any dates and details of specific incidents that may help substantiate your version of events.


    Seeking medical treatment is the most effective method for documenting a psychological injury. While keeping your own records is important, being able to show you’re receiving treatment for your condition will further strengthen your chances of being awarded compensation.


    If you’re suffering from an emotional injury caused by work-related stress, you may qualify for a WorkCover claim. Just as employers are obliged to protect employees from physical danger, similar standards apply to psychological trauma. You may be entitled to damages if you can prove your employer failed in their duty of care by exposing you to an unreasonable amount of stress.

    For more information on psychological injury claims contact us today

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    One Response

    1. Barbara Cooney Feb 15, 2019 — Reply


      I have suffered psychological harm from my exhusband to the point where I almost comitted suicide this past April due to anxiety and panic attack. He has lied to me and my son and been involved with online romance scammers. I have tried for two years now to get him away from the scammers to the point where, as he won’t listen to me, it has affected my health and mental state. I have talked to the Fraud Squad in Perth who agreed he was involved with an online scam. They said they could not help me catch these people, they could only warn my ex to stay away from them. Thier inability to not be able to catch these scammers has also contributed to my anxiety. My ex refuses to listen to them or me. I am so disheartened by the whole thing and am finding it very hard to live my life and raise my son with a dad that doesn’t care about him or the mental anxiety he is putting me through. I am not sure if I can sue my ex…but maybe it would open his eyes to the mental damage he is causing to his son and me. I also believe the Perth Fraud Squad should be held accountable as they have done nothing to really help catch these people for the last two years. His bank has done nothing either in regard to these scamners using Rob’s bank accounts to launder money through. They just let it happen.

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