Emotional Distress Damages in FDCPA Cases

What are emotional damages?

Where the FDCPA guidelines are concerned, emotional damages are basically the results of prolonged emotional distress incurred by a consumer at the hands of a collection agency, other debt collectors, or collection attorneys. Emotional distress is legally defined as the intentional or negligent act of a debt collector which creates undue emotional issues and pressure for the consumer. Today, where FDCPA cases are involved, it is a popular technique for presenting the consumer’s case and winning the court judgment.

Consequences of emotional distress

Without a doubt, nothing is more harmful to an individual emotionally, mentally, or physically than stress, especially when that stress results from the emotional distress that a consumer is enduring at the hands of an abusive and harassing debt collector. The FDCPA laws strictly forbid these types of collection practices from being used by a collection agency, collection attorney, or other debt collector. In most instances, emotional damages are psychological. However, there could be negative physical implications as well.

A judgment of “emotional damages” is now easier to obtain by virtue of the federal FDCPA laws than the state FDCPA statutes. The difficulty at the state level has arisen by virtue of the fact that they feel that federal courts do not use state standards when trying to determine if emotional damages truly exist. They also claim that they feel that there needs to be legislation that mandates that the federal courts use the state standards when determining the existence or non-existence of emotional damages.

The original intention

In 1978, when the legislative branch of the federal government added the FDCPA guidelines under Title VIII to the Consumer Credit Protection Act, the original intention was to create a more effective way for the consumer to protect themselves against the abusive and harassing tactics that most debt collectors were practicing in order to collect a debt. The secondary intention was to develop a uniform law which effectively governed how consumer debts were to be collected.

Examples of emotional damages

Putting the associated physical maladies to the side, which can result from prolonged emotional distress, there is the emotional damage that is being focused on when your FDCPA claim goes to court. We are referring to those psychiatric and/or psychological consequences that stem from the stress. These include:

  • anxiety, fear, guilt, nervousness, and worry
  • crying and/or hysteria
  • embarrassment and the humiliation that results
  • emotional paralysis
  • insomnia and nightmares
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Jonathan Ginsberg

For over 25 years, Jonathan Ginsberg has represented honest, hardworking men and women facing financial troubles.