If you are a victim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, do not hesitate to contact Wallace Miller for legal assistance. We might be able to represent you in a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party and recover the compensation owed to you.
Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a type of conduct in which a person inflicts severe distress on someone else. A simple insult or trivial threat isn’t considered an infliction of emotional distress. The act must cause severe emotional distress for the victim to hold another person liable.
At Wallace Miller, our Chicago intentional tort attorneys know the mental and emotional toll a traumatic experience can take. Even if you don’t sustain physical injuries, the emotional pain and trauma can significantly affect your life. You might require ongoing therapy to cope with what happened and other types of treatment to manage your symptoms and recover.
You won’t be alone in the fight for justice. Our team will be in your corner from start to finish of your case. Call Wallace Miller at (312) 261-6193 today for your free consultation to learn more about how we can help with your intentional tort case.
What Is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is a common non-economic loss people suffer in tort cases. It’s often the result of a traumatic experience. Two types of actions can cause emotional distress:
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress – Negligent infliction of emotional distress often results from someone owing another person a duty to protect them from harm and breaching their duty, causing an emotional injury.
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress – Intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when a person intentionally or recklessly causes someone else extreme emotional distress.
Negligence cases often involve car crashes, medical malpractice, and other cases involving a negligent act or omission. An intentional tort is a person’s intentional act that harms someone else. Inflicting emotional distress on a person on purpose is an intentional tort. The victim can pursue compensation from the at-fault party for their suffering and expenses resulting from the conduct.
Common types of emotional distress include:
- Mental pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Thoughts of self-harm
Anyone suffering from emotional distress might need professional help. Some people seek therapy to cope with their emotions and discover tools to help them adjust to their daily lives. Prescriptions are also typical to alleviate symptoms and minimize disruptions to a person’s daily routine.
Physical symptoms can also occur due to stress and other negative emotions. Gastrointestinal disorders, chronic fatigue, and headaches are common. It requires medical care to cure the condition or handle the symptoms.
How to Hold Someone Liable for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Physical injuries are relatively simple to prove. You can show a photo of visible wounds, medical records from the treatment you received, and video surveillance of the incident resulting in the injury.
Establishing liability in a case involving emotional or mental injuries can be challenging. Physical proof of how a person feels is limited. To prove a person is liable for infliction of emotional distress, you must show these elements exist:
- The defendant’s conduct was outrageous and extreme;
- The defendant intended to cause you severe emotional distress or knew there was a high probability of causing the distress by engaging in their conduct; and
- Your emotional distress resulted from the defendant’s actions.
Extreme and Outrageous Conduct
Another person’s conduct must be extreme and outrageous to pursue a successful tort case for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The actions the person takes must exceed the boundaries of decency. That means it involves more than a mere insult or negative comment.
Judges typically determine whether the conduct in an intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit is extreme and outrageous by reviewing contributing factors. They will check the duration and frequency of the defendant’s conduct and look for a pattern of behavior. They might also establish the type of relationship between the two parties and whether that makes the victim vulnerable or the defendant more likely to exhibit undesirable behavior.
If the defendant is in a position of power or authority, such as a police officer, employer, creditor, or landlord, and attempts to inflict emotional distress, their conduct can be considered outrageous or extreme. If someone has a physical or mental condition making them susceptible to emotional distress and the defendant knows about the condition, the judge will likely consider that information while deciding on the case.
Intent or Knowledge
Intent or knowledge and reckless disregard are other crucial aspects of the infliction of emotional distress. Proving a defendant intended to cause a plaintiff severe emotional distress isn’t necessary. The defendant must know their conduct will cause someone emotional distress. Alternatively, they must recklessly disregard the consequences of their actions.
Severe Emotional Distress
Emotional distress must meet a specific threshold to qualify as an intentional tort. That means it must be severe enough to justify legal action and determine whether an ordinary person would be able to endure the distress.
Emotional Distress Linked to Conduct
The plaintiff must show the emotional distress is the result of the defendant’s outrageous or extreme conduct. The distress can’t be due to other circumstances.
Typically, emotional distress doesn’t cause visible physical injuries. It can be difficult to prove a person suffers from emotional distress when their outward appearance seems fine. However, emotional harm can manifest as physical harm, making it possible to show someone’s health and well-being are affected by another’s conduct.
For example, a victim can suffer from rapid weight loss, stroke, heart attack, or hair loss.
Showing a link between the incident and a newly diagnosed or worsening mental health condition can help prove what happened. Common evidence showing an emotional distress injury includes:
- Statements from people who witnessed the incident
- Photos or video surveillance of the defendant’s conduct against the plaintiff
- Medical documentation from therapists and other medical providers
- Statements from friends and family regarding the plaintiff’s changes in mood and behavior since the incident
Emotional distress must lead to losses before an injured party can hold a person liable in an intentional tort case. Losses can include the cost of seeking therapy or paying for prescriptions. Someone might not earn their usual wages if they need time off from work to manage their emotional distress.
Compensation for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Calculating emotional distress can be complex. Unlike physical injuries, emotional distress often doesn’t come with receipts, invoices, and billing statements. Demonstrating the monetary effects the distress has on a person is necessary. That might require requesting documentation from a psychiatrist, pharmacy, and other establishments that are treating the mental health issue.
You can pursue compensation from the person at fault for causing you emotional distress. The money you receive might compensate you for:
- Psychiatric appointments, counseling services, or other mental health treatment expenses
- Cost of treating physical symptoms experienced from the emotional pain
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages are also recoverable in an intentional tort lawsuit. This type of financial award punishes the defendant and aims to deter similar actions in the future. You must show clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s conscious indifference to the rights and safety of others and reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm or their evil motive to be awarded these damages.
Statute of Limitations for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
If you want to sue another person for intentional infliction of emotional distress, you must comply with strict state laws. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for intentional torts allows a two-year timeframe to file a lawsuit against another party. That means you must initiate your lawsuit in civil court within two years of the incident to seek compensation for your losses.
You could lose your right to legal action if the timeframe passes before you file. However, you can toll the statute of limitations under certain circumstances. That means the two-year timeframe won’t start on the date of the incident. Instead, it will begin when a specific event occurs.
The two circumstances that can toll the statute of an intentional tort case include:
- Unsound mind – If you are of unsound mind when someone causes your emotional distress, the statutory period won’t begin until you gain mental competency.
- Minor – If you are under 18 at the time of the incident, you will have two years from the date of your 18th birthday to file your lawsuit.
Speak to an Experienced Intentional Tort Lawyer in Chicago Today
Wallace Miller cares about the clients we represent. We believe everyone deserves quality legal representation after an injury. You won’t have to go through this devastating time in your life alone. We will remain by your side to guide you through the complicated legal process and pursue the compensation necessary to treat your emotional pain.
If you suffered severe emotional distress due to someone else’s intentional acts, call us at (312) 261-6193 for your free consultation. We can review the circumstances of your case and determine whether we can file a civil lawsuit to hold the at-fault party liable.