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In personal injury cases, the elements of proof for emotional distress cases have long been established by Illinois law. Illinois personal injury law recognizes a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress for both direct victims and bystanders.
A direct victim may be able to win damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress if he or she can show that the defendant was negligent and the negligence was a proximate cause of a physical injury along with a psychological injury. As in other types of cases, the following elements must be proven:
A bystander may be able to recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress when a traumatic event happens in close proximity. If the plaintiff is a bystander, the following elements must be proven:
Illinois Workers Compensation Law recognizes mental stress injuries caused by a physical trauma, and in some extreme situations, psychological injuries caused at work without a physical injury.
In Illinois workers compensation cases, certain physical events that trigger psychological trauma could prove to be compensable. For example, if your supervisor assaults you in a manner that causes you to have panic attacks, you may be able to recover under workers compensation. Another example might involve an accident where you are physically injured while working and the event causes you to become severely depressed and/or develop a fear of returning to the same situation.
Workers Compensation Law recognizes certain situations where there are mental damages without a physical injury. The "mental-mental" workers compensation claim where both the cause of the injury and resulting manifestation of the injury are mental as opposed to physical. The key to recovering mental-mental damages in workers compensation cases is to show that a particular situation involved a sudden, shocking event. In cases where the mental trauma is not related to a sudden, shocking event, the petitioner must show mental experienced was extraordinary and the employment conditions surrounding the mental trauma were a substantial cause of the psychological injury.
Mental stress injuries are compensable in Illinois. As with any other type of injury, psychological injuries must be properly diagnosed and treated by a qualified doctor. These can be difficult cases to prove, and even when solid proof is present psychological injury cases can be difficult to present. The insurance industry and the general public remain skeptical regarding psychological injuries. However, psychological injury cases are compensable under both personal injury law and Illinois Worker's Compensation law.