Ontario Courts Awarding Damages in Mental Anguish Lawsuits - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Ontario Courts Awarding Damages in Mental Anguish Lawsuits


Suffering a broken leg or serious lacerations because of someone’s negligent or willful conduct are the types of injuries most people think of when discussing personal injury lawsuits. Proving the existence and extent of a physical injury can be accomplished through an X-ray or simply by looking at the injury. Lawsuits for mental anguish or mental distress seek compensation for injuries that are very real and troublesome to the individual suffering from them, but they can be difficult to prove in court.

What is a mental anguish lawsuit?

Mental anguish lawsuits seek damages for the pain and suffering resulting from another person’s negligent or intentional conduct. Emotional or psychological injuries that could give rise to a claim for compensation include:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Sleeping disorder, such as insomnia
  • Depression
  • Fear and phobias, such as when a person bitten by a dog refuses to leave the house
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

A case decided by an Ontario court in which damages were awarded to a woman whose dog was lost when it escaped from a boarding kennel was one of the first times a court in Canada awarded damages for emotional distress caused by the loss of a pet. The woman produced evidence proving it was the negligence of the kennel operators that allowed her dog to escape. The damages awarded to the woman included compensation for her insomnia and nightmares attributable to losing the dog. 

The burden on the plaintiff to prove mental anguish

It takes more than claiming to be sad or upset for a person to recover damages in a mental anguish lawsuit. The victim must prove two things about the emotional distress:

  • The victim suffered a psychological injury that was a foreseeable result of another party’s negligence; and
  • The psychological injury is a recognized psychiatric disorder

Under these guidelines, a victim must prove the negligent party knew or should have known that his or her conduct would cause harm. Although a person suing for emotional distress does not have to exhibit a physical injury, the condition must be proven in court. Doing so usually depends upon the results of an evaluation by a psychiatrist, psychologist or other health care professional capable of identifying the condition from which the victim is suffering and testifying about it in court.

Types of mental anguish lawsuits

Mental anguish claims can arise in any type of personal injury case, including: 

  • Dog and animal bites
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Premises liability
  • Products liability
  • Wrongful death
  • False arrest
  • Unlawful imprisonment

Sexual abuse and sexual assault are criminal acts that could also lead to a civil claim against the offender by a victim who suffers emotional anguish.

Workers subjected to humiliation, taunting and other extreme behaviours at work could be entitled to compensation from their employers who engaged in the conduct or failed to prevent or stop it from happening. In one wrongful dismissal case, proof of emotional harm experienced by a school official following his firing might have been the reason for an award of aggravated damages by a Canadian court against the school.

Experienced Ontario personal injury lawyers

The amount of compensation awarded for emotional anguish may depend upon the ability of the victim to demonstrate an impairment of his or her quality of life. The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond provide experienced legal advice and superiorrepresentation in pursuing compensation for individuals in mental anguish lawsuits.Call our 24/7 personal injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to one of our team members. We offer free consultations and case evaluations and have offices throughout Ontario.

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