Seeking Compensation For Emotional Distress
There are events in life that affect some people so intensely that they suffer a shock and, in some cases, a physical injury. A person who suffers these kinds of reactions can be said to be suffering from emotional distress, which is defined as the mental distress or anxiety suffered as a response to a traumatic, sudden, severe, and saddening experience. Emotional distress can be caused in two ways, negligently or intentionally.
Under Georgia law, in order for a person to seek compensation for the negligent infliction of emotional distress, there are certain elements that have to be met. Negligent infliction of emotional distress results from another person’s negligent actions. A person who is involved in a car accident may sue the other driver for any trauma that results from the accident. In order for a person to recover for the negligent infliction of emotional distress, there has to be a physical impact on the person; this is known as the impact rule. That is, there has to be physical injury to the person, for example, the person who suffers the emotional distress may be so shocked that he falls to the ground and injures himself, or so shocked that he suffers a heart attack. However, there are exceptions to the requirement for a physical injury in negligent infliction of emotional distress cases for a person who suffers pecuniary (monetary) losses and for a parent who watches his or her child die.
The intentional infliction of emotional distress results from a person acting in such an extreme and outrageous behavior that it causes emotional distress in another person. This extreme and outrageous conduct can be intentional or reckless. The most important question is how extreme and outrageous the person’s conduct is. This is not gauged by the reaction of the person who suffers the emotional distress, rather, the courts looks at the conduct to see if it is beyond all bounds of decency in a civilized community. An example of conduct that may be considered that extreme may be a person deciding to play a practical joke on a stranger by telling her that her spouse and children have been killed in a horrible accident and she has to rush down to the hospital to identify their bodies. Very few people would find this behavior acceptable, and many would likely find it outrageous and extreme.
Not every shock or aggravating event or action rises to the level of emotional distress. For example, a disagreement with a neighbor or family member is unlikely to rise to the level of negligent or intentional emotional distress, even if the person subsequently spreads rumors about you. There may be other ways to address the spreading of rumors, but unless there is more, a claim for emotional distress would likely fail.
Let Us Assist You
If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic reaction to an accident or through the actions of another person, you may be able to get compensation for your emotional distress. For more information, contact experienced Florida and Georgia personal injury counsel at Gillette Law, P.A. We can help you throughout each step of your personal injury case.