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how much can I sue for emotional distress: How and When to Sue


Here is where the difference in the law starts to matter, though. The important part is that it was caused by someone else. Let’s use a car accident as an example: People have a duty to drive legally and safely on public roads. This is the first part of a car accident case. Anyone who drives a car must have a license and follow the rules.

A breach of duty is the second part of every negligence case. The driver is not acting like a sensible person would in that situation. In a car accident, the violation is when someone speeds up or goes through a stop sign. Technically, breaking the law is a breach of the duty to drive safely. However, a breach of duty also happens when someone does something that a reasonable person wouldn’t do.
The third part is that the broken duty hurts someone.

This is where the emotional pain comes in. If the car blows through a stop sign and hits your car, it could do a lot of damage. Your car is damaged, you or your passengers may be hurt, and you may also have to deal with emotional pain.

Lastly, harm leads to more harm. When a driver hits your car, it’s simple to calculate the cost of repairs and medical care. The courts have also figured out how to put a price on mental pain.
In situations like this one, where emotional pain can come along with physical pain, the emotional pain is often called “pain and suffering.” In some states, you can only get paid for pain and suffering if it is caused by an injury or sickness.

how much can I sue for emotional distress:

Emotional pain doesn’t have to be caused by something physical. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other types of mental illness are medical diagnoses that can happen after a car accident even if there are no physical injuries.

You can also sue for emotional distress if the person who caused it did so on purpose, like in cases of sexual abuse, harassment, or defamation.

Common claims of emotional distress and examples of each
Cases involving emotional distress can be based on either negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress. The main difference between the two types of cases is shown by the word “intentional.” If someone does something to upset you on purpose, that can sometimes be enough to file a lawsuit.

Accidental Damage
In the case of a car accident, it is clear that pain and suffering should be taken into account along with the other damage. Instead, let’s say that the accident happened, but no one was hurt.

In most states, you would need to have some kind of physical reaction, even though there was no physical contact, in order to win a case of negligent infliction of emotional distress. If you were so scared that you got hives or your hand started shaking, for example, you might be able to sue the driver.

The need for physical symptoms can vary from state to state. Some states will allow a case to proceed even if the symptoms are minor, such as inability to sleep or loss of appetite. In recent years, some states have done away with the need for physical symptoms altogether.

The Case of the Bystander
The “bystander” type of case is one type of case for causing emotional distress through carelessness. Now, let’s think back to the accident. You are not in the intersection when the driver goes through, so you were never in danger. However, you saw the driver hit your parents as they crossed the street.

In this situation, you could sue the driver for making you feel bad even if you didn’t have any physical symptoms and weren’t hurt or even touched. This would also be true if you got there shortly after. But you couldn’t do anything about it if you only found out about it later.

If your best friend stood in for your parents in the example, most states would not let you file a lawsuit. Most bystander cases involve people you live with, like your parents, grandchildren, children, siblings, or other relatives.

Purpose Infliction
Everything up to this point has been about causing emotional pain by accident or through carelessness. Causing someone’s mental pain on purpose is different.

If people could sue every time someone did something that made them angry, they would all be in court all the time. To keep this from happening, the courts only find cases of intentional infliction of emotional distress when the behavior is extreme or outrageous.

An IIED claim depends a lot on the facts and on whether or not you can show a judge or jury that the behavior is extreme enough. Some instances of bullying or being called names won’t be enough to support a claim, but extreme cases that cause distress might.

Even though it’s not a requirement, physical reactions to cruel or bullying behavior will make it much more likely that an IIED claim will be made. For example, it may or may not be grounds for an IIED claim to tell someone that their spouse is in the hospital after a serious accident:


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