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The “Egregious Emotional Distress” Checklist

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Clinical & Forensic Psychologist

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 your client is experiencing egregious emotional distress. The more items endorsed, the greater the likelihood that you have such a claim.


Please place a check next to each item describing how you have felt during the last few weeks. I …

  •  am experiencing feelings of nervousness and anxiety.

  •  was physically harmed.

  •  was the victim of an intentional act.

  •  have been experiencing physical/health problems since the event(s).

  •  turned to a mental health professional for help after it happened.

  •  faced an experience that was outrageous or shocking.

  •  am grappling with another person’s negligent actions.

  •  am experiencing sleep problems.

  •  feel frequent heart pounding/racing.

  •  am experiencing nightmares.

  •  have difficulty concentrating.

  •  am having difficulty functioning.

  •  feel embarrassed and/or humiliated.

  •  have lost self-confidence.

  •  am struggling with chronic headaches.

  •  have been taking psychotropic/psychiatric medication.

  •  am experiencing chest pain or stomach pain.

  •  have turned to alcohol or illegal substances to cope.

  •  am experiencing panic attacks.

  •  feel jumpy or easily startled.

  •  Have unusual thoughts that other people don’t have.

  •  am feeling angry.

  •  feel like a failure.

  •  have difficulty remembering what happened.

  •  am having thoughts of homicide/murder.

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

  •  have lost wages.

  •  am experiencing chronic pain.

  •  have frequent periods of crying.

  •  am avoiding things I used to enjoy.

  •  struggle with feelings of guilt.

  •  am having eating problems.

  •  have not told the truth about what happened.

  •  have lost interest in sex.

  •  am hearing voices telling me what to do.

  •  have pursued medical treatment.

  •  am feeling sad and depressed.

  •  have experienced self-destructive thoughts.

  •  see things that other people can’t see.

  •  have become agitated or violent.

  •  feel like I am being watched and followed.

  •  have frequent recollections of the event(s).

  •  struggle with “triggers” of the event(s).

  •  am thinking about how I may commit suicide.

  •  have a loss of interest in activities that I enjoyed.

  •  am experiencing feelings of hopelessness.

  •  am hypervigilant (e.g., watchful, cautious, or on guard).

© 2024 by Lerner Psychological Services, P.C.


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