Can you sue someone simply because you claim he/she caused you to suffer emotional distress? The courts have recognized that it is so common that to permit people to file lawsuits simply because they are emotionally distressed would flood the court system. These restrictions have been placed upon lawsuits related to emotional distress:
A person may sue another for emotional distress that is intentionally inflicted. A viable lawsuit will demonstrate:
- The perpetrator’s conduct was highly outrageous
- The perpetrator intended to cause the victim distress (or at least must have been very reckless)
- The emotional distress experienced by the victim was severe
- The perpetrator’s conduct was the actual cause of the severe emotional distress (this is the most difficult to prove, because work, family matters, or health problems may have contributed to the emotional distress)
Mere insults, threats, annoyances, or other acts of unkindness will not ordinarily satisfy the “outrageousness” requirement. The acts must be absolutely intolerable, such as involuntary confinement and threats of physical harm.
The relationship between the parties is another factor to consider when determining “outrageousness.” Some examples are employer-employee, insurer-insured, and doctor-patient. And, where the perpetrator is aware of the victim’s vulnerability, the conduct of the perpetrator can rise to the level of outrageousness.
The emotional distress suffered by the victim must be substantial. Usually the victim will seek professional help, and may experience physical injury such as deterioration of health as a result.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or injustice, the experienced personal injury legal team at Roberts & Roberts is here to help with compassionate, aggressive representation. Please call 800-248-6000 or contact us for a free consultation.