Mental Anguish and Suffering Law Law & Legal Definition


Mental anguish and suffering refers to emotional disturbances such as distress, anxiety, depression, grief and/or psychosomatic physical symptoms. It is a separate factor sometimes argued in awarding damages for physical injury due to a defendant's negligence or intentional infliction of harm. It is possible to recover damages without a physical injury if it is reasonable to presume mental trauma would naturally flow from the incident. Examples: holding a pistol to one's head, or witnessing injury or death to a loved one.

Damages for mental suffering and anguish are sometimes awarded in cases of embarrassment or damage to one's reputation through libel. However, there are limits: in general, breach of contract judgments cannot include damages for mental anguish due to the loss of a deal or employment. The term "mental anguish" implies a relatively high degree of mental pain and distress. It is more than mere disappointment, anger, resentment, or embarrassment, although it may include all of these. It includes a mental sensation of pain resulting from such painful emotions as grief, severe disappointment, indignation, wounded pride, shame, despair and/or public humiliation.