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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    7 Responses

    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.

    2. Lynette Byrnes Aug 12, 2019 — Reply

      I personally as a full-time Carer for My 20 year old adult youth suffering from a Mental Health Disorder under expensive care to maintaining his Calmness in the periods of 2014 – 2019 Currently living in a Transitional House Gold Coast with a support plea of urgency to support my son and I after these dates and before failure from all above failed me to regain control from Sanity again unable to face a housed future from being sacked from several employers in between these dates to current and non-support in the Government sectors other than guilty, fine’s, loss of my dignity and respect for responsibility for my Lifestyle and my son deteriorated in the struggle i had to survive our five years ahead from a good paying job to say Yes to any thing of value to support before crashing from this Transition House with migrant neighbours of Indian/Muslim trait not sure as they do not speak english other than swearing to me as i face Public nuisances to have any say to be heard and clean up a street of bully upset racism set upon me to loose as a British White Gender of a lovely nature destroyed to believe i live here anymore with any rights as Courts demand guilty plea unquestionably to a quick payroll as i struggle to pick my self up from facing homelessness as i am in 2 weeks due to another QSTRH fight to clear my name in past 9 months living near rif raf no peace, health affected and sanity and wealth every thing in my possession gone for the 4th regain to try and maintain my housing in filthy conditions un aided by maintenance orPrivate & Public Landlords non-correspondent to fox any of this Illegal mess they have put me into at the end of my 5 year gain with good credit score,job, Rental coping to a Government non – supportive managed & Hippocrocy Beurocracy debarcle of protocol crash on me to black X my credit score, evict my Son & I yet he did nothing wrong and Discrimination huge as i told my Landlord Liam McKinnon via email on the form12 wrongly accused as a perfect tenant 30/01/19 23/08/19 when i sit in Court to my first Criminal Racist Public Nuisance Charge of which in June my first non conviction Public Nuisance just wanting to have Peace in this Squalor accomodation listening to far worse than me alone in this city now on the street 12.5tonne home furnishings to give up and walk from no where to go with a Pet bird. Its the worst crash ive experience’d unaided the past yeAr in the Public Housing sector with MP support Mick De-Brennie still has me on a high list for housing with RobinaHousing whom have also dug their claws in not to help me and Discriminate on my Son to my face just recently in a interview with no feedback of support so i guess no future house either to back my doctors housing medical support long term between Palm Beach and Hope Island Ever. I will be forwarding a Discriminating Complaint over 3 Officers whom have juggled my serious claim backed and acceptance to support until they ruined my reputation, rebound Strength and a decent Caucasion failed to tell me about my protected neighbours residing as our neighbours Australia.

    3. Katie Aug 28, 2019 — Reply

      Well that made utterly no sense.

    4. Katie Aug 28, 2019 — Reply

      Also, I just have to point out: the fact that you said utterly horrendous things about Indian & Muslim people & raved on like a delirious illiterate from another planet who cannot even string 3 words together, yet alone anything even close to an entire sentence, and even doubled down on that white supremacy bullshit by including a few random words about being a lovely decent WHITE British woman.. actually makes YOU appear the incredibly racist one here.

    5. Katie Aug 28, 2019 — Reply

      I just read the entirety of your hideous rant. So, you are even facing a racism charge? Wow! Just wow. Though from my initial thoughts after reading your rant- quite befitting, it appears.

      As a white Australian myself (but with indigenous heritage on my fathers side & Burmese heritage on my mothers side) I am utterly appalled.

      Seek help for you mental health & then when you are stable enough not to hurt another human with your vile words- then and only then- volunteer at a soup kitchen for the homeless indigenous population. Or volunteer at an indigenous community centre. Find some commonality and some compassion.

      See past the colours & you will suddenly embrace all the colours.

      Also, I have just escaped over a decade of domestic violence and have severe complex ptsd with multiple trauma layers, depression, anxiety & OCD. My partner committed suicide when we separated. I am the housing list too, I will fight for right to assistance but I won’t do it by tearing other cultures apart.

      Usually that results in departments & people taking a dislike to you & failing to act on your behalf swiftly. Departments are run by humans…. many of whom are people who you say are so bad… think about that.

      Also, consider moving somewhere cheaper if possible. Hope island & palm beach are incredibly expensive. Ipswich and Toowoomba are cheaper & have more Bogan Aussies, who are racially biased like yourself. Might be nice to surround yourself with like minded individuals… because I have a feeling life might get pretty lonely for you.

      I am studying law & reading your bizarre hateful rant only motivated me to fight for people who are discriminated against even more so. (Oh, and I don’t mean you).

      • Ty Oct 02, 2019 — Reply

        Lol … she’s studying law but has no idea about civil law clearly

    6. Jayson Sep 04, 2019 — Reply

      I would like to mention that I was been traumatised at my workplace ,I dealt with work bullying for about continuous one year and it came to final end when I ended up with a incident where my manager bullied me .
      But I am on WorkCover now and my claim have been accepted but I would like to sue my company for causing me long term psychology injuries and anxiety attack .

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