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California Emotional Distress Claims

California Emotional Distress Claims

In California, victims who suffer emotional distress as a result of another person’s conduct can file a lawsuit for the intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress. There is no need that a victim suffers a physical injury.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Elements of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress:

The plaintiff must be able to prove the following elements for a successful claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress:

  • The defendant’s conduct was outrageous
  • Defendant had the intention to cause harm or acted with reckless disregard of the likelihood of causing distress to the plaintiff
  • Plaintiff suffered severe emotional as a result of the defendant’s conduct.

Outrageous Conduct

Under California law, outrageous behavior means that the conduct is so extreme that it goes beyond all possible bounds of decency.

Conduct is considered outrageous when a reasonable person finds the behavior uncivilized, goes beyond minor annoyances and poor manners that must be anticipated in day-to-day activities. As defined by CA case law, outrageous conduct can be shown in different ways including showing a pattern of behavior and not just an isolated incident, abusing the position of authority, using the victim’s vulnerability to emotional distress, or acting with knowledge that the conduct would likely cause emotional distress.

Severe Emotional Distress

Severe emotional distress means that the distress is so lasting or substantial that no reasonable person could be expected to bear it. It includes highly unpleasant mental reactions, such as shame, fright, worry, grief or anger.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Unexpected accidents may cause life-altering physical injuries, disabilities to people or make a victim suffer from emotional distress. A victim can be entitled to recover compensation in case another person’s negligent conduct has caused him to suffer from emotional distress.

Elements of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

The plaintiff must be able to prove the following elements for a successful claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress:

  • Defendant acted negligently
  • As a result of defendant’s negligent conduct, the plaintiff suffered serious emotional distress

Claims of Negligence

Negligence takes place when one person has and breaches a duty of care that he owes to another person. A victim must be able to establish the following elements to prove the negligence.

  • Defendant owed a duty of care to the victim
  • Defendant breached the duty in some way
  • The victim suffered harm as a result of the defendant’s conduct

Emotional Distress Suffered by a Bystander

In California law, a bystander who witnesses an accident when another person is injured or killed, may also be able to recover damages for emotional distress.

The bystander must be able to prove the following elements for a successful claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress:

  • Defendant negligently caused a death or injury to a victim
  • Bystander was present when the accident took place
  • Bystander was aware that the accident was causing an injury or death to the victim
  • Bystander suffered serious emotional distress when witnessing the victim’s injury or death

Some examples of situations when a bystander can be eligible for monetary damages

  • Car accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Injuries caused by defective products

Are you in need of legal assistance regarding emotional distress? Our litigation attorneys in California can provide you with services involved with personal injury, employment law, and many other practice areas of law. No need to fight a battle on your own. Get in touch right away to find out how KAASS Law can help you!



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