Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a type of tort claim. While many negligence claims may involve damages for mental anguish or emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress is a harder claim to prove.
What is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?
This tort is defined as occurring “when one acts abominably or outrageously with intent to cause another to suffer severe emotional distress, such as issuing the threat of future harm.” A plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted in an “outrageous” manner, “for the purpose of causing the victim emotional distress so severe that it could be expected to adversely affect mental health,” and that it did in fact cause that distress.
Conduct that rises to the level of intentional infliction of emotional distress has to go above and beyond hurting someone’s feelings, or accidentally causing them anguish during a related accident. For example, if you convinced someone that their loved one had died in an accident as a “practical joke,” that would certainly be intentional, extreme and outrageous conduct. If the plaintiff actually did suffer mental health and/or physical problems as a result, they may be able to successfully sue you.
Intent vs. Negligence
It’s not as difficult to prove a claim of emotional distress in a negligence lawsuit. That’s because your lawyer doesn’t have to prove intent. They merely have to prove that your mental anguish was a byproduct of the negligent act, even if the defendant never wanted to hurt anyone. Car accidents are a great example: the defendant may have been distracted and ran a red light, t-boning your car. As a result, you suffered injuries and have panic attacks whenever you get behind the wheel, nightmares and other mental anguish. As long as your lawyer proves that the defendant’s actions breached their duty of care, and that breach caused all of these damages, you should prevail.
Intent can be harder to prove. In many cases, there simply may not be enough evidence to show that the defendant wanted to inflict emotional distress. Furthermore, there are certain exceptions and defenses. Speaking harmfully about public figures usually doesn’t rise to the level. If the plaintiff gave consent for the conduct, that may also be used for a defense.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is talk to a personal injury attorney. They’ll let you know whether you have a good case for intentional infliction of emotional distress, or if there’s another cause of action that would be more appropriate.
Discuss Case with an Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer
When you’re harmed as a result of someone else’s actions, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. If you have a case for intentional infliction of emotional distress or another type of mental anguish, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call me today at 877.614.9524 for a consultation, and we’ll work to get what you deserve.