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How Do You Calculate Damages for Emotional Distress?

By November 20, 2014 Employment Law No Comments

Emotional distress is the stress and emotional hardship someone suffers in an employment law case. It’s similar to “pain and suffering,” which is commonly heard in personal injury lawsuits. Someone may experience emotional distress because of a hostile work environment or workplace harassment.

Montgomery County Kentucky Courthouse

Montgomery County Kentucky Courthouse

While the signs of ” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>emotional distress aren’t usually visible, they’re very real, and it’s possible for a plaintiff to ask for compensation in an employment lawsuit. The state of Kentucky allows for lost wage recovery, emotional distress recovery, and attorney fees if you win. The emotional distress is calculated primarily based on the plaintiff’s testimony.

A jury will hear the testimony of the plaintiff, as well as anyone close to the plaintiff, such as family or friends. The jury will then decide how much to award.

Determining how much a plaintiff should receive is based on what they ask for. The plaintiff must itemize each damage claim, in the form of lost wages, as well as the emotional distress itself, and assign it a dollar value. This can include medication, therapy, psychologists or psychiatrists, and so on. The jury will then determine what, if anything, the plaintiff should receive. They can award anywhere from one dollar to the requested amount.

The judge has final say over how much is to be awarded. If the judge believes the jury’s decision is too high, he or she can lower it. The judge can also increase the award as long as it does not exceed the amount asked for. I once represented a client on a case where the jury awarded $1 million in emotional distress, but the judge struck it down because he believed there was not enough evidence to warrant the claim. As a result, the plaintiff received nothing.

There is no exact math to calculate how much a plaintiff should ask for. However, he or she should ask for something reasonable in order to be seen fairly and taken seriously. Asking for $1 million for being worried for a week will not win the jury to your side. However, a woman who was sexually harassed, fired, became depressed, and couldn’t work for a year could reasonably ask for $1 million. It depends on the case and the testimony. If you’re not sure, ask your employment law attorney.

If you have suffered emotional distress as a result of workplace harassment or an illegal firing, or have other questions about employment legal issues, please contact the Cassis Law Office at (502) 736-8100.