The tax treatment of litigation damages is varied and complex. But the rule for compensatory damages for personal physical injuries is supposed to be easy. They are tax free under Section 104 of the tax code. Yet exactly what is "physical" isn’t so clear. Some of it seems to be semantics. If you make claims for emotional distress, your damages are taxable. If you claim the defendant caused you to become physically sick, those can be tax free. If emotional distress causes you to be physically sick, that is taxable. The order of events and how you describe them matters to the IRS.