In the event of a personal injury, a victim may be eligible for a variety of damages, which are awarded to aid in their recovery. The compensation that is paid is intended to pay for medical bills related to the injury, which may include hospitalization, physical therapy,or more. Bodily injuries, however, have a far-reaching impact on one's mental and emotional well-being as well. Even if a victim has not been physically injured, one may suffer emotionally and require treatment as a result. Injuries during a car accident, a slip and fall, or even a truck accident can impact a victim’s mental health.
This is something many people may not even think about: emotional distress. If I’m in an accident in New Jersey and my mental health has been impacted, am I able to sue? We will break down some of the significant facts surrounding New Jersey lawsuits involving emotional distress in this article.
How Is Emotional Distress Defined Legally in NJ?
Emotional distress is legally defined as “significant mental suffering or distress” in New Jersey Statutes. If you're not familiar with New Jersey law, you may at least get a sense of how the phrase is used by looking at its definition. Fear, worry, uneasiness, embarrassment and sadness all fall under the umbrella of this term.
Emotional distress also falls under pain and suffering damages, and refers to the mental anguish one suffers when another person's actions causes anguish, humiliation, torment, anxiety, insomnia, or depression.
There are two distinct types of emotional distress, as defined by New Jersey Law:
1. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: When someone experiences extreme emotional anguish as a consequence of ongoing harassment by another, this is referred to as Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED). However, it’s important to keep in mind that a single instance of being insulted or humiliated may not justify a claim for IIED. As cited in previous cases of IIED in New Jersey, the law textbook "Restatement (Second of Torts)" says, “Liability has been found only where the conduct has been so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”
2. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress: An act that caused emotional pain, but was not the intention of the defendant. This basically holds a defendant to some liability, as it is their moral obligation to avoid hurting others, whether that harm is mental or physical. An emotional distress lawsuit may be brought against someone who acts in a manner that directly causes another person to suffer a significant amount of distress, even if it is not intentional.
Determining Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Damages
When assessing whether to award emotional distress damages to a victim, the court will take a few things into account, including whether it was proven that:
- The defendant's acts were intentional and also reckless. To be held liable, the defendant must have both the intent to carry out the act and the purpose to inflict emotional distress. In order for a defendant to be liable for a reckless conduct, he or she must have acted intentionally without caring that a victim would likely suffer emotional distress;
- The defendant's behavior was extreme and outrageous. To be considered beyond tolerable in a civilized society, the behavior must be shocking in nature and excessive. Simple insults, threats, annoyances, or other little inconveniences will not justify damages or prove liability;
- The defendant's conduct must have been directly responsible for plaintiff's emotional distress;
- The plaintiff must have gone through such extreme emotional distress that no reasonable person could have been expected to go through. The behavior of the defendant must be serious enough to cause the typical person significant emotional distress or mental pain.
Is Your Emotional Distress Interfering With Your Life? We May Be Able To Help
Contact the New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney At Law now if you have any concerns about emotional distress damages. Our legal team can help you get the compensation you're due.
Don't worry about fees. We only get paid if we win. Our commitment to our clients is important and we will do everything in our power to help you win your emotional distress case. Contact us now for a free consultation.