Mental anguish is an element of non-economic damages usually sought in personal injury cases, medical malpractice and sometimes defamation cases. Generally, "mental anguish"  translates to certain types of suffering that may include distress, anxiety, fright, depression, grief, or trauma. In many jurisdictions, plaintiffs may recover for mental anguish; however, some states set compensation caps on non-economic damages.
Often, with major cases, focus groups are used to determine these kinds of situations. In a personal injury case focus group, a group of people volunteer to hear the facts of the case and then answer questions pertaining to the case so that the attorneys can get an idea of what the general public (and hopefully the future jury) is thinking. Knowing that a focus group of 20 people all thought the victim should be paid at least $50,000 can help a lot in determining a starting point.
For example, John Smith went to his local doctor because he had a black spot on his foot and his leg was painful.  His doctor sent him to a surgeon who suggested a special procedure using a needle inserted into his leg artery to see whether the veins in John’s foot were blocked.  The surgeon botched the procedure and John’s artery was damaged.  Several weeks later John’s leg had to be amputated.  When John consulted a lawyer and the lawyer investigated his claim, the lawyer found that John’s original foot condition was gangrene and he was always going to have to have his leg amputated, so the surgeon’s negligence in performing the procedure did not leave John worse off than he would otherwise have been and he fails the test of causation.
(3) A professional may be held liable for negligence on one of the two findings: either he was not possessed of the requisite skill which he professed to have possessed, or, he did not exercise, with reasonable competence in the given case, the skill which he did possess. The standard to be applied for judging, whether the person charged has been negligent or not, would be that of an ordinary competent person exercising ordinary skill in that profession. It is not possible for every professional to possess the highest level of expertise or skills in that branch which he practices. A highly skilled professional may be possessed of better qualities, but that cannot be made the basis or the yardstick for judging the performance of the professional proceeded against on indictment of negligence.
Before you sue your doctor for medical malpractice, take some time to consider whether you believe your case meets the threshold for a medical malpractice claim. Did your doctor breach the medical standard of care and did that breach cause you to suffer damages? Be honest with yourself. But for your doctor’s breach of the standard of care, would your injuries have occurred? If your answers are “yes” and “no” to those questions, your case may have a shot. If you can allege, with expert support, that your doctor breached the standard of care, and but for his breach your injuries would not have occurred, your case will likely not be immediately dismissed.
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