If you work in a small and interactive office, you may have grown accustomed long ago to the different personalities -- and personality conflict -- inherent in a close working environment. However, when these conflicts go beyond petty squabbles and become abusive, particularly if they're directed from a superior to subordinate, they can cause long-term emotional issues and even stress-induced physical ailments. What are your options if you've found yourself trapped in an abusive work relationship and are beginning to suffer the consequences? Read on to learn more about the circumstances under which you may be able to maintain a personal injury lawsuit against your employer for verbal abuse, as well as what you'll need to prove to keep your claim viable.

When can you sue your employer or superior for verbal abuse?

In many cases, interpersonal conflicts in the workplace -- like sexual harassment, discrimination based on race or gender, or wage and hour violations -- are litigated in the employment law context, where the focus is centered more on the job-related consequences to the victim, rather than his or her physical or mental health. A judgment in one of these cases is generally intended to make the victim financially whole from being deprived of duly earned wages or advancement opportunity based on a protected characteristic.

However, if your employer's abuse has led to genuine physical or mental issues in addition to employment-related consequences, you may instead be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer and/or the superior who caused you harm. This lawsuit will focus on the physical, mental, and emotional damage the employer's negligent or reckless behavior caused you and will help compensate you for any out-of-pocket medical or therapy expenses as well as assess punitive damages in certain cases. 

What will you need to prove to prevail at trial? 

In order to win in court, you'll need to establish not only that your employer permitted you to be verbally abused, but that this abuse had tangible consequences. If you haven't sought medical treatment or emotional therapy for the stress caused by your toxic working environment, it may be difficult to prove that you were "damaged" in a legal sense. You'll also want to take future treatment into account; if you're planning to continue your therapy for the next several years, you'll want to calculate the projected cost of this treatment and include this in any judgment you seek or settlement you accept. 

To learn more, contact a personal injury attorney like Todd East Attorney at Law