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Home > Articles > Negligent Infliction Of Emotional Distress

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

The tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress is a controversial legal theory that is not accepted or used in very many jurisdictions in the United States. The underlying concept is that an individual has a legal duty to use reasonable care to avoid causing emotional distress to another individual. When an individual fails in this duty and unreasonably causes emotional distress to another person, that person or actor will be liable for monetary damages to the injured individual.

The tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress is not the same thing as intentional infliction of emotional distress. There is no need to prove intent to inflict distress with negligent infliction of emotional distress. This means that an accidental infliction, if it is negligent, is enough to support a claim.

The tort was originally embraced by legal theorists and jurisdictions in the latter part of the twentieth century. Courts began to allow plaintiffs to recover for emotional distress for physical injuries to themselves and other persons with whom they had a special relationship when they were the result of negligence.

Before negligent infliction of emotional distress could come into being, the courts had to remove the requirement of physical injury to the actual plaintiff while keeping the requirement of physical injury to someone. In 1968, the Supreme Court of California was the first court to allow recovery for emotional distress alone, even without physical injury, in the particular situation where the plaintiff witnessed the death of a close relative at a distance and was not in the “zone of danger.”

The majority of states dislike the tort as it appears not to have a definable parameter and the potential claims that can be made are wide open. It is difficult to define what situations would successfully give rise to such a claim and what situations would not. Due to the uncertainty, the majority of legal theorists find that this theory is unworkable in practice.

Contact a Wausau Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been a victim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, contact the Wausau personal injury lawyers of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® at 1-800-248-0171 today.

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