8 Psychological Evaluation of Emotional Damages in Tort Cases

Forensic Psychology


  1. William E. Foote PhD, ABPP1,
  2. Craig R. Lareau JD, PhD, ABPP2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop211008

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Foote , W. E. and Lareau, C. R. 2012. Psychological Evaluation of Emotional Damages in Tort Cases. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 11:II:8.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of New Mexico, Department of Psychology, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

  2. 2

    Patton State Hospital, Department of Psychology, Patton, California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


The American legal system has developed procedures for the resolution of disputes related to civil wrongs, or torts. Psychologists have become an integral part of this system because of their expertise in evaluation of functional impairment and the determination of the causes of psychological symptoms and problems. This chapter focuses on tort cases and how psychologists may work with the courts to assist in resolution of these disputes. The first half of the chapter reviews the law as applied to tort cases and provides definitions of terms associated with tort cases, and distinctions between different kinds of torts. Some case law history is the next topic, and this first half concludes with a review of the Rules of Civil Procedure as applied to tort cases. The second half of the chapter reviews the psychological evaluation of plaintiffs. Included is a brief introduction to a five-stage model of assessment of damages and causation. This section provides references to applicable standards and guidelines and some examples from the research in trauma and comorbidity.


  • tort;
  • personal injury;
  • forensic evaluation;
  • trauma