Someone has intentionally caused you emotional distress, and now you’re paying for their actions. Whether it’s high levels of stress, therapist bills, or another grievance, leaving the situation alone won’t solve the problem. In fact, without taking action, your situation may even worsen.
Intentional infliction of emotional distress typically involves damaging conduct that causes you severe emotional difficulty. In these cases, you (as the victim) may receive financial compensation for the damages caused by the perpetrator.
But not all offensive behavior counts as intentional infliction of emotional distress. It’s only when the conduct has reached a reprehensible level that the actions qualify. Let’s look a bit closer at these definitions.
Defining Emotional Distress
Intentional infliction of emotional distress usually involves outrageous or extreme conduct. The conduct must be recklessly or intentionally caused and cause you severe emotional duress or distress. While this may differ in other states, Arizona doesn’t require that you suffered bodily harm to qualify.
In addition, you may receive compensation for emotional distress in a situation where you weren’t the target of the extreme conduct. Most often, this type of claim involves you being present while the aggressor subjects your family member to outrageous conduct.
And if the victim in question received bodily harm, you may recover damages, even if they aren’t a family member.
Grounds for Suing Someone for Emotional Distress
Let’s look at some emotional distress examples, so you fully understand the concept. You may need to look into working with an emotional distress lawyer if:
- You witness someone hurting or killing a family member.
- You were in close proximity to an event that caused injury or death.
- You saw your family member’s deceased body mishandled.
In situations like the examples listed above, the person who acted in an outrageous manner and caused harm is responsible for the emotional distress it caused you. They may also be responsible for any resulting bodily harm. Talking to an experienced lawyer is the most reliable way to find out.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Elements
Negligent infliction of emotional distress, though related, is a separate crime than intentional infliction of emotional distress. In Arizona, these cases may fall into one of two categories:
- Direct NIED: These claims involve emotional distress as a result of expecting to be physically harmed due to someone else’s negligent conduct.
- Indirect NIED: Indirect NIED claims involve family members who witness an accident while being in close proximity to danger caused by the perpetrator. Even if you didn’t get hurt physically during the event in question, seeing a loved one get hurt could qualify as experiencing emotional distress.
What Qualifies as Extreme or Outrageous?
If you’re considering suing someone for emotional distress, you first have to understand what qualifies as extreme or outrageous conduct. To count, the behavior must go beyond offensive, harmful, or malicious.
While it isn’t rare to encounter rude behavior, obnoxious actions or insults usually don’t count. While normal insults usually won’t qualify, they may count if there’s a special relationship between the perpetrator and victim.
Ordinary Insults or Actions
If the aggressor knows that you’re susceptible to emotional stress because of a mental disorder or physical condition, their conduct may count as extreme or outrageous.
For example, forcing someone to encounter their phobia could qualify as intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Exercising Legal Rights
If someone causes emotional distress by exercising their legal rights, it doesn’t count as intentional infliction of emotional distress. Calling the cops on a neighbor who breaks the law won’t leave you responsible for the mental distress they encounter as a result of legal action, for example.
But keep in mind that the jury will have the final say on whether the conduct is extreme or outrageous.
Intent or Recklessness
If you’re looking into suing an employer for emotional distress, they must have acted with intent or recklessness for the claim to be valid. For instance, the accused must have intended to cause you severe emotional distress or known that their actions would likely cause distress.
Intentional infliction of emotional distress from an employer can include threatening your physical security, discrimination based on sex, or racial insults. Your employer firing you is not grounds for filing an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.
Defining Severe Emotional Distress
To qualify for an intentional infliction claim, you must have encountered “severe” emotional distress in response to the perpetrator’s outrageous behavior. While the precise definition of “severe” is vague in this case, you must prove to the jury that the distress you experienced was sufficient enough to warrant compensation.
Intensity and Duration
There are a few guidelines that can help define whether your emotional distress qualifies as severe. When the conduct that caused your suffering was so extreme that no reasonable person should’ve had to deal with it, the jury will likely count it as severe emotional distress.
How long and intense the emotional distress is will also define how severe it is. The longer you experience emotional disturbance from the perpetrator’s actions, the likelier it is that it will qualify as severe.
Emotional Distress Evidence
You must prove your emotional distress to the jury using evidence. If you’re suffering from paranoia or panic attacks, proving this should be enough to show the jury that you’re suffering emotional distress. In some cases, the perpetrator’s actions will be enough to demonstrate severe emotional distress for the victim.
In these cases, the accused’s behavior is so disturbing that the jury will assume emotional distress for the victim(s). Physical harm can also count as evidence for severe emotional turmoil. Providing documents from your doctor can prove that the perpetrator caused you to suffer from stress-related sickness or injury.
Receive Help Filing a Lawsuit for Emotional Distress in Arizona
Wondering how to file a lawsuit for emotional distress in Arizona? Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone. If someone else’s reckless or careless behavior caused you direct or indirect harm, you might receive a financial award by hiring legal help.
A personal injury attorney can help you define your options and find the best course of action.
To receive help with settling a personal injury claim in Arizona, fill out the form below or give us call at (480) 526-4602 to start your FREE case evaluation.
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