The intentional infliction of emotional distress is a very real and serious claim, but unfortunately it is one of the most difficult injuries to prove. Emotional distress is defined as conduct that is so extreme and outrageous in nature, that it goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and socially tolerable conduct. If you think you have a claim, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. These questions are typically what a court observes when deciding if compensation is appropriate for an emotional distress claim.
- What was the intensity of the distress?
A court will try to measure the intensity and severity of distress to determine whether it qualifies for a claim. This goes back to that extreme and outrageous conduct that we mentioned above. Normally, rude behavior or insensitive conduct does not rise to the level of intense behavior that would establish emotional distress. Behavior that can be categorized as intense behavior includes, but is not limited to: the loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation or indignation, severe mental anguish, a traumatic experience, discrimination, etc.
- Duration—How long did you endure the distress?
A court will use the duration of your distress as another measure in deciding whether you have a right to compensation under an emotional distress claim. Duration of pain is important to determine whether an injury is persistent and reoccurring. An injury that results in pain for a long and ongoing period of time is a good indication of a successful claim for severe emotional distress.
- Related Bodily Harm—What kind of injury did you receive?
For a claim of emotional distress, the kind of injury a person received can also be relevant to determine whether compensation is appropriate. In order to be compensated for emotional distress, an injury needs to be shown to support your claim. These injuries could take on several forms such as persistent anxiety, paranoia, stress that leads to another bodily harm (e.g. a miscarriage), or an evident physical injury.
- Underlying Cause—What caused your injury?
It is difficult to argue a claim of emotional distress if your injuries are a result from some other conduct that is unrelated to the event that caused your emotional distress. The injury of emotional distress needs to be a consequence of the party’s conduct of whom you seek to sue for compensation. The injury must have been caused because of this party’s intentional or reckless behavior. You must show that this party should had the purpose or desire to cause such emotional distress.
- Expert—Professional Advice?
Have you spoken to a doctor or a psychologist in relation to your injury? If you feel that you might have a claim for emotional distress, it is important to speak to a doctor so they can support your claim. Objective evidence from a medical professional is not required, but helpful in proving your claim. It is valuable to demonstrate that you have sought medical expertise which indicates on record the intensity and duration of the emotional distress.
As you can see, a claim for emotional distress incorporates several factors that need to be considered, so seeking professional advice is important. If you feel like you or a loved one may have a claim for emotional distress, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. You may be entitled to compensation for your emotional distress.