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What Is Emotional Pain and Suffering?

Emotional pain and suffering is a measure of the amount of suffering you experience from nonphysical injuries.

In Illinois law, it is more often described as either just “pain and suffering” or “emotional distress.”

You can often receive compensation for emotional pain and suffering as part of your compensation for a physical personal injury. In fact, it is often assumed and included in your compensation. But sometimes you can also get compensation for emotional pain and suffering even if there is no physical injury.

When You Can Get Compensation without a Physical Injury

If you suffered serious emotional distress as a result of another person’s actions, you may be able to get compensation even if you did not suffer a physical injury. There are two situations that Illinois law allows for: deliberate emotional distress and negligent emotional distress.

To get compensation for deliberate emotional distress, you must prove that you suffered extreme emotional distress and that the person or persons responsible:

  • Acted in an extreme or outrageous fashion
  • Intended to cause emotional distress or recklessly disregarded the possibility of causing emotional distress
  • Caused your emotional distress

For negligent emotional distress, you must prove that you are a “bystander” under what is known as the “zone of physical danger rule” or sometimes just the “zone of danger rule”. Under Illinois law, this means you must prove:

  • That you were in the zone of physical danger
  • That you reasonably feared for your own safety because of the responsible person’s negligence
  • That you suffered a physical injury or illness as a result of emotional distress

It may seem that the final term makes it as if you are not actually getting compensation without suffering a physical injury. However, the injury you suffer doesn’t have to be at the time of the accident or incident.

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