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"Your meticulous work is invaluable for plaintiff and defense attorneys."

4. Psych Record Reviews
3.  Forensic Evaluatons


Forensic psychologists focus on the intersection of psychology and the legal system. Dr. Lerner specializes in two areas: Emotional Distress Claims and Fitness for Duty Evaluations.


Psychological injuries—often referred to as the negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress, are frequently overlooked. These are the psychological and functional problems caused by another person's or entity's actions. 


Today, there is an increasing awareness of the impact of emotional distress, as evidenced by the following:

     •  The United States spends more money treating mental disorders than any other disease or medical condition

     •  Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health illness in the United States.

     •  Depression is now the leading cause of illness and disability worldwide.

It is critical for pro se parties and attorneys to determine whether an individual is grappling with emotional distress and, if so, how it is impacting the client's functioning—their fitness for duty.  

Emotional Distress Claims


There is virtually no limit to the amount a jury may award for egregious emotional distress & pain and suffering.*

Dr. Lerner specializes in emotional distress claims by providing:

     1.   Forensic Evaluations.  

     2.  ​ Psych Record Reviews, &

     3.   Psychotherapy & Reports.


1.  Forensic Evaluations

In order to substantiate the presence of egregious emotional distress, there must be supportive medical and/or psychological documentation. When there are a paucity of data concerning the severity and duration of a plaintiff's condition, Dr. Lerner may be called upon to conduct a Forensic Psychological Evaluation. 


Psychological evaluation provides attorneys with a comprehensive report focusing on the reason for referral, an extensive discussion regarding the event(s) that prompted the evaluation, the plaintiff's history, their mental status, a review of their functioning, objective psychometric test results, current symptomatology, diagnostic impressions, the proximate cause of the plaintiff's distress, the prognosis, recommendations, etc. 

By obtaining clinical and objective (e.g., psychometric test) data, a forensic evaluation can empower counsel to prove or disprove claims of egregious emotional distress. 

Dr. Lerner introduced the term "Personal Psychological Injury" to address the often overlooked and minimized psychological and functional damages caused by traumatic events. He has served as an expert witness for both plaintiffs and defendants in legal matters involving:


     • bullying

     • child abuse

     • rape

     • sexual assault

     • sexual harassment

     • defamation

     • discrimination

     • hostile work environments

     • wrongful termination

     • wrongful psychiatric hospitalization

     • employment matters

     • motor vehicle accidents

     • train accidents

     • personal injury

     • dog bites

     • medical malpractice, and  

     • other civil matters.

Due to licensing laws, Forensic Psychological Evaluations are conducted only when the client is in the State of New York.


2.  Psych Record Reviews

Attorneys often receive psychiatric, psychological, and other mental health evaluations—progress notes, medical records, education records, employment records, witness reports, police reports, and depositions. 

Psych Record Reviews assists attorneys in proving or disproving claims of negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress & pain and suffering. When convergent data are available, further assessment of the claimant is generally not necessary.


Dr. Lerner provides detailed document annotations and executive summaries that address the extent of a plaintiff's emotional and functional problems. Data can be instrumental in determining whether an event was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's alleged difficulties.

Record review empowers plaintiff or defense counsel to:

     •  identify strengths and weaknesses in clinical documentation,

     •  understand empirical psychometric test results and pinpoint critical findings, 

     •  provide unsettling questions for depositions and trials that practitioners DO NOT want to be asked, and

     •  save the expense of unnecessary and time-consuming psychiatric and psychological evaluations.

 In just days, Dr. Lerner provided skillfully annotated documents that reinforced our

legal strategy and obviated the need for costly and time-consuming reevaluation."

Unlike a treating therapist or testifying expert, a forensic consultant functions under the cover of the attorney's work product. And since record review does not involve diagnosis, treatment, evaluation, or prevention of a disorder, it is not the professional practice of psychology. This enables Dr. Lerner to consult with attorneys across the country.


3.  Psychotherapy & Reports

Due to the nature of their experience, many plaintiffs benefit from psychotherapeutic intervention. By reaching people early with timely information, guidance, practical strategies and support, we can potentially prevent acute difficulties from becoming chronic problems. 


Dr. Lerner provides short-term therapy (i.e., four to eight sessions) in person or virtually. He then generates comprehensive reports for attorneys that address the following:


     •  Reason for referral,

     •  plaintiff's relevant history,

     •  nature of the distressing event(s), 

     •  emotional and functional impact,

     •  consideration of proximate cause,

     •  symptomatology and diagnosis,

     •  treatment methodologies,

     •  recommendations, and

     •  prognosis.


Obtaining documentation from a treating psychologist can be invaluable for attorneys—particularly prior to depositions, hearings, and mediation. To discuss your needs, please contact Dr. Lerner directly.

Due to licensing laws, psychotherapy is only provided by Dr. Lerner when the client is in the State of New York.


The Second Circuit Sorts Emotional Distress Into Three Categories: 

Garden-Variety,” Significant,” and “Egregious


Garden-Variety emotional distress claims merit awards ranging from $30,000 to $125,000. Such awards have been rendered in cases where the evidence of harm was presented primarily through the testimony of the plaintiff in the absence of medical/psychological corroboration.


Significant emotional distress claims merit awards ranging from $50,000 to $200,000. These claims differ from garden-variety claims in that they are based on more serious/substantial harm or more offensive conduct and are often corroborated by witnesses and/or medical/psychological documentation. 


Egregious emotional distress claims merit awards well in excess of $200,000. These claims differ from significant emotional distress claims when the defendant's conduct was “outrageous and shocking” or when the plaintiff’s physical health was significantly impacted.


In all cases, having psychiatric and/or psychological documentation that substantiates emotional and functional problems will increase the likelihood of an award for emotional distress & pain and suffering.

The “Egregious Emotional Distress” Checklist


Attorneys who observe emotional problems and functional impairment often question whether pursuing a claim of emotional distress is advisable.


While there are “garden-variety” and “significant” claims of emotional distress, cases involving “egregious” emotional distress often result in awards well over $200,000. 


The following checklist is a "litmus test" to determine if you are experiencing egregious emotional distress. The more items endorsed, the greater the likelihood that you have such a claim. 




❏  are struggling with anxiety, anger, and/or depression.

❏  are having difficulty functioning.

❏  have been experiencing physical/health problems since the event.

❏  have turned to a mental health professional for help.

❏  have faced an experience that was outrageous or shocking.

❏  are grappling with another person's or entity's negligent or intentional actions.

❏  are experiencing sleep or eating problems.

❏  feel frequent heart pounding/racing.

❏  have nightmares.

❏  have difficulty concentrating.

❏  are withdrawing from others.

❏  created a journal describing what happened.

❏  have little or no energy.

❏  have family, friends, and/or coworkers who can attest to the event(s).

❏  feel embarrassed and/or humiliated.

❏  have lost self-confidence.

❏  are struggling with chronic headaches.

❏  are experiencing chest pain or stomach pain.

❏  experience panic attacks.

❏  feel jumpy or easily startled.

❏  feel like a failure.

❏  have difficulty remembering what happened.

❏  were prescribed psychotropic medication.

❏  have incurred medical bills and/or out-of-pocket medical expenses.

❏  have lost wages.

❏  are experiencing chronic pain.

❏  have frequent periods of crying.

❏  struggle with feelings of guilt.

❏  have lost interest in sex.

❏  have pursued medical treatment.

❏  have experienced self-destructive ideation.

❏  turned to alcohol or illicit substances.

❏  have become agitated or violent.

❏  have frequent recollections of the event(s).

❏  have text messages/email where you described what happened.

❏  are struggling with “triggers” of the event(s).

❏  have a loss of interest in activities that he/she enjoyed.

❏  are experiencing feelings of hopelessness.

❏  are hypervigilant (e.g., watchful, cautious, or on guard).

Egregious Emotional Distress:

Five Critical Questions

     1.  Were you harmed as a result of someone’s negligent or intentional actions?

     2.  Have you experienced an event that was outrageous and shocking?


     3.  Are you experiencing emotional and functional problems?


     4.  Are you facing health problems since the event?

     5.  Has your experience been documented?

Fitness for Duty & Fitness to Practice Evaluations


Fitness for duty refers to one's psychological suitability to perform the requisite functions of a job. Dr. Lerner conducts fitness for duty evaluations for numerous professions, including candidates for law enforcement positions, police officers, correction officers, probation officers, school safety agents, traffic enforcement agents, and police communications technicians. He additionally evaluates emergency medical service and fire service candidates, including emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and firefighters. Dr. Lerner regularly conducts evaluations to determine the psychological suitability of civilians to obtain gun or firearm permits.

Dr. Lerner additionally evaluates psychological fitness for duty or practice with other diverse professions, including educators (e.g., teachers and university professors), healthcare providers (e.g., nurses, physicians, and mental health professionals), construction workers and truck drivers, journalists and commentators, entertainers, professional athletes, etc.


Every fitness for duty evaluation is tailored to meet the unique needs of the client and/or his or her attorney.

* While there is no cap on the amount a jury may award for emotional distress & pain and suffering in New York, there are caps in some states.


Dr. Mark Lerner.jpg
7. The "Egregious Emotional Distress" Checklist
6. "Garden-Variety," "Significant/Substantial," and "Egregious"
5. Psychotherapy and Reports
1. Emotional Distress Claims
2. Fitness for Duty Evaluations
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