Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress by an Employer
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What Do I Need to Prove in Order to Sue for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress by my Employer?
Generally, an employee lawsuit for negligent infliction of emotional distress against an employer will only be successful where you have witnessed or been involved in a dangerous accident, where you have actually suffered a physical injury, and where that injury was the cause of your severe emotional distress.
To bring an action for negligent infliction of emotional distress by an employer, you will need to prove the following:
- that your employer or a co-worker acted negligently in such a way that caused you emotional distress
- that there is a connection between that person's actions and your emotional distress
- the likelihood of a successful lawsuit for negligent infliction of emotional distress is much higher if you can prove that you have suffered a physical injury as a result of their actions
What Does "Negligent Conduct" Mean?
Negligent actions, as opposed to intentional ones, are things that another person does that cause you harm, even though the person doing them may not have wanted or tried to harm you. When a person acts negligently, they act recklessly or carelessly in such a way that might reasonably harm or cause injury to someone else. A person will often be found by the court to have acted negligently when the harm caused was foreseeable.
Recovery for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress When I have Suffered a Physical Injury
In cases where you are trying to recover for emotional distress, you are much more likely to succeed where you have sustained a physical injury due to the negligent conduct of your employer or co-worker. The sorts of physical injuries/symptoms that the court will look for are:
- High blood pressure
- Disturbance to the nervous systems
- General physical illness
These types of physical injuries show the court that the emotional distress you have suffered is in fact severe.
Recovery for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress When I have Not Suffered a Physical Injury
It will be much more difficult to recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress where you have not suffered some sort of actual physical injury as a result of your employer's negligence. The general rule is that a person who acted negligently is not liable to you if you have only suffered emotional distress and have no physical injury.
While a successful action for negligent infliction of emotional distress where you have not been physically injured is not impossible, it is much less likely to succeed. Relief is usually only granted to persons not suffering an injury in such cases where they are a bystander to a serious injury to a loved one, which will probably not occur in your place of employment.
When Is the Employer Responsible For a Co-Worker's Conduct?
There are generally three situations where the employer may become responsible for a co-worker's conduct:
- When the co-worker acted within the course and scope of his/her employment and in furtherance of the employer's business;
- The employer failed to address the complaints filed by the injured employee against the co-worker's conduct; and
- The co-worker held a very important position in the employer's business so that his/her actions may be attributable to the employer.
The determination of the employer's responsibility is a factual issue that depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.
Do I need a Personal Injury Attorney to Sue for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress?
If you have been injured by the negligent acts of your employer, you should speak with an attorney to preserve your rights and seek possible remedies for your injury. A personal injury attorney will be able to explain the likelihood of your success and help you seek relief through the legal process.
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Last Modified: 01-18-2013 11:16 AM PST
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