Ordinarily, the most “valuable” element of a bodily injury claim is the right to compensation for all “pain and suffering” plaintiff has sustained, and will endure, as a proximate result of the injury. These are plaintiff’s “general damages,” and may run far in excess of the “special damages” (e.g., earnings loss and medical expenses). Pain and suffering” is a unitary concept, encompassing all the physical discomfort and emotional trauma occasioned by an injury. Plaintiff is entitled to compensatory damages for all physical pain suffered, and also for all resulting “fright, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, mortification, shock, humiliation, indignity, embarrassment, apprehension, terror or ordeal.” An emotional trauma that attends tortiously-inflicted physical injury is compensable in the form of a “pain and suffering” award. Sometimes, however, a tortious act directly causes mental distress without any concurrent physical injury—i.e., plaintiff’s primary injury is emotional distress. The distress may have physical consequences, but the cause of action is not predicated on “physical injury” per se. A cognizable emotional distress cause of action entitles plaintiff to reasonable compensation for any fear, anxiety and other emotional distress suffered and/or to be suffered in the future (plus reasonable compensation for consequential financial loss).

If the emotional distress claim is against plaintiff’s employer for an act during the course and scope of employment, the workers’ comp “exclusive remedy rule” will ordinarily preclude an action at law. Subject to a few exceptions (e.g., employer’s violation of statute), worker emotional distress lawsuits are allowed only if the events giving rise to the claim (a) were not a “normal” part of the employment relationship, or (b) contravened “fundamental public policy.” The fact the employer’s conduct was “egregious” in nature does not itself take the case outside the “exclusive remedyrule. ” [Livitsanos v. Super.Ct.]. It would be best to seek personal assistance from a lawyer in order to help you in filing a personal injury claim.

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