As you can well imagine, suing for emotional distress is not an easy venture. Proving emotional distress, particularly in the absence of physical injury is extremely difficult. Consulting with a lawyer who has expertise in this area is vital if you hope to have any chance at recovering damages.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
This common law tort is used as a “gap-filler” which basically means that it can be used when there are no other laws that address the situation. For example in the case of sexual harassment, intention infliction of emotional distress (IIED) cannot be used when filed with a harassment case. When the complaint is actually another tort (in this case, sexual harassment) IIED is not available as an additional claim.
Cases where IIED is allowed must show that the behavior of the defendant has been considered extreme and outrageous, far beyond acceptable limits in normal society. It is the plaintiff’s duty to show that the defendant’s conduct was beyond what would be considered civilized behavior and unacceptable to a reasonable person.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
In a situation where a person has undergone emotional distress due to negligence, damages may possibly be awarded. For example physical harm occurring through an automobile accident, injuries sustained due to assault and battery or some other form of physical harm inflicted on a person resulting in emotional distress may be cause for litigation.
There are also situations that arise where a person experiences emotional distress where no physical harm to the person is involved. A person subjected to witnessing the wrongful death of a child or parent who consequently experiences mental anguish may be able to recover damages. A bystander traumatized by witnessing a wrongful death may also be in line for compensation especially if that bystander feared for their life or had reason to believe that they would be severely injured.
Establishing that you have suffered emotional distress can be challenging however there are avenues that can show you have sustained emotional injury.
- Professional diagnosis – A broken arm or leg is an obvious indication of injury. Mental or psychological injury is not as evident. Having your emotional distress documented by a doctor or psychologist is necessary to back up your claim.
- Physical manifestation of an emotional problem – If you are experiencing headaches, ulcers, or other types of physical manifestations of emotional distress it is important to have these documented as evidence of mental injury.
- Persistent pain – Post traumatic stress syndrome is an example of discomfort that is lasting. When you have pain that is continuous or recurring, it may be a result of emotional distress. Your doctor is instrumental in diagnosing and treating your discomfort. A record of the duration of your discomfort will be helpful in supporting your claim for emotional distress.
- Intensity of mental anguish – Severe mental anguish is more likely to be compensated and this type of emotional distress is usually accompanied with physical injury of some kind.
- Serious underlying cause – You can experience mental anguish when you are involved in a minor car accident. This does not mean you are entitled to compensation though. On the other hand, when there is a serious underlying cause for your emotional distress you are more likely to be able to extract recovery from the situation.
When filing for emotional distress be prepared to enlist a few of these to support your claim. Offering just one will most likely not be enough to prove your case. Working with a personal injury lawyer who has expertise in emotional distress cases is going to be critical to having your case heard and taken seriously.
Your lawyer will need to examine all aspects of your case. If there is a chance that the damages you seek are covered in another tort such as in the case of sexual harassment or discrimination, you will need to know that so you do not waste your time and money going after an outcome that cannot be achieved. Proper legal counsel will help you find the best way to a get the compensation you seek for your emotional distress.
At Greening Law we know how to fight for you. Known for integrity and perseverance you can trust Greening Law to prepare your emotional distress case for the best possible outcome. You do not have to go to court unprepared or unaware of what to expect. We will work with you to insure that your case has the best chance of yielding the expected outcome.
You have already experienced enough trauma. We acknowledge that and provide compassion and understanding as we guide you through the legal system. Call Greening Law and let us help you with your emotional distress claim. This is a time when you need caring support and understanding counsel on your side.