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emotional distress

n. an increasingly popular basis for a claim of damages in lawsuits for injury due to the negligence or intentional acts of another. Originally damages for emotional distress were only awardable in conjunction with damages for actual physical harm. Recently courts in many states, including New York and California, have recognized a right to an award of money damages for emotional distress without physical injury or contact. In sexual harassment claims, emotional distress can be the major, or even only, harmful result. In most jurisdictions, emotional distress cannot be claimed for breach of contract or other business activity, but can be alleged in cases of libel and slander. Evidentiary problems include the fact that such distress is easily feigned or exaggerated, and professional testimony by a therapist or psychiatrist may be required to validate the existence and depth of the distress and place a dollar value upon it.

See also: damages 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications