Civil Plaintiffs, Trauma, and Stress in the Legal System

Mary White Stewart and Steven M. Wood

in Stress, Trauma, and Wellbeing in the Legal System

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199829996
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199301492 | DOI:

Series: American Psychology-Law Society Series

Civil Plaintiffs, Trauma, and Stress in the Legal System

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There appears to be a prevalent notion that the United States is a highly litigious society, and that individuals sue without considering the tangible and intangible costs of litigation. Such perceptions are one of the many stressors that litigants face. Social scientists and legal researchers are gaining a better understanding of the personal, psychological, and economic stressors that accompany litigation. This chapter focuses on the entire process of litigation—from the initial decision to sue to post-settlement or verdict—from the civil plaintiff’s perspective. In doing so, it highlights the factors that shape the plaintiff’s experience, particularly those that influence the stress and trauma of the litigation process. The chapter concludes by offering several suggestions for ways in which the legal system and its actors may minimize stressors and improve the psychological wellbeing of civil plaintiffs.

Keywords: stress; trauma; wellbeing; courts; legal system; litigants; civil trial; innovations

Chapter.  11417 words. 

Subjects: Criminal and Forensic Psychology

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