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Emotional Distress

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Suing for Emotional Distress

If you are a victim of the negligent or intentional actions of another person that causes you emotional distress, you may be able to recover for your damages. The extent of your recovery for emotional distress is generally limited by the amount of damage you suffer, and the severity of distress inflicted. Many lawyers are hesitant to take a case based solely on emotional distress because the amount of damage can be relatively small.

Two Types of Emotional Distress Lawsuits

There are two types of emotional distress lawsuits: negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress: 

  • Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
    • Negligently acting or not acting in a way that causes someone to endure emotional pain
    • There must be a connection between the wrongdoer's conduct and the emotional distress
    • To be successful in a lawsuit, the distress must result from a physical injury or be so egregious that it results in physical symptoms
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
    • The wrongdoers conduct must be intentional or reckless
    • The conduct must be outrageous and intolerable
    • There must be a connection between the wrongdoer's conduct and the emotional distress
    • The emotional distress must be severe
    • To be successful in a lawsuit, the distress must be very extreme or outrageous

When Can I Bring a Emotional Distress Claim?

Bringing a emotional distress claim if you were victim of emotional distress will depend on your state laws and the facts surrounding the case. An emotional distress claim is usually brought by the victim who suffered the extreme emotional suffering and trauma. In several states, the victim must also prove that there was physical injury actually caused by the emotional distress and defendant's conduct.

In general, you can recover for emotional distress when:

  • You witness the death or injury of a family member
  • You are a bystander and witness an event that causes fear of death or injury AND you were in the zone of danger
  • When you witness a deceased body of a family member be mishandled by authorized personnel.

What Is Zone of Danger?

Zone of danger rule is a remedy in tort law that provides for the recovery of damages for emotional distress inflicted on a person by another person's negligent act. The rule provides that the victim was located in a area that was dangerous and could have suffered death or great bodily harm if the conduct actually caused injury.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney For My Emotional Distress Claim?

If you or a loved one have been injured by the intentional or negligent acts of another, you should speak to a personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about preserving your rights and remedies. A lawyer will be able to explain the value of your case and help you navigate through the complicated legal process. Most lawyers who handle these types of personal injury matters work on a contingency basis.

Vea esta página en español: Aflicción Emocional o visita para más información legal.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 03-04-2018 10:24 PM PST

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