Mental anguish is the legal term for emotional suffering including depression, anxiety, fear and shock. In civil law suits, plaintiffs can claim mental anguish as a general damage and seek compensation for it. Certainly mistreatment by a workers compensation insurance company can create emotional stress, particularly if the insurer made it difficult to get necessary medical treatment in a timely manner. However, states have rules and limitations on mental anguish compensation, requiring plaintiffs to have strong, well prepared cases.
Document your worker's compensation case and insurance company's actions carefully. Takes notes on conversations and save letters and emails. Ask for copies of your medical files as well. You will need strong evidence of how your case was mishandled and how you were mistreated to justify your claim of mental anguish.
Collect evidence of your anguish. See a doctor or psychiatrist who can diagnose and treat your depression, shock, anxiety or other mental or emotional condition. Judges need evidence, and third-party professionals such as physicians are credible sources. According to Atlanta-based personal injury attorney Michael Werner, some states use the "physical manifestation rule" requiring plaintiffs to prove symptoms of illness or injury resulting from mental anguish such as stomach ulcers or dramatic weight loss.
Research your state laws on mental anguish and personal injury. Not all states accept mental anguish as sole grounds for a lawsuit. Georgia, for example, follows the "impact rule," which allows mental anguish only as the result of an injury or other damage. Plaintiffs must show how an injury, such being hit by a car, then led to mental anguish. Only then can the claim succeed. Other states limit claim values as well.
Complain to your state board of insurance. Having a complaint on file against the insurer with an active investigation will increase your credibility. Additionally, if the insurance board finds in your favor or can supply you additional evidence, it will strengthen your case.
Retain an attorney who specializes in personal injury or insurance law. Lawsuits involving mental anguish are complicated and require careful preparation. Have an attorney explain your rights and options under your state's laws.
Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.