The short answer is yes, you can sue for emotional distress in Stuart. There are several ways to do this. Compensation for severe emotional distress can be significant if the defendant’s conduct was outrageous enough and if they have sufficient resources to pay the claim.

Ways To Sue for Emotional Distress

The five main ways to sue for emotional distress are:

  • Incident to a personal injury claim;
  • A sexual assault claim;
  • As part of the damages for a defamation claim;
  • Intentional Infliction of emotional distress; and
  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Not all of these ways of suing for emotional distress require you to have suffered an accompanying physical injury.

Ordinary Personal Injury Claims

Suing for emotional distress incident to a personal injury claim requires you to have suffered a physical injury. Since physical injuries frequently result in accompanying emotional distress, you can demand non-economic damages for emotional distress in addition to your economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost earnings.

Sexual Assault Claims

A sexual assault involves bodily contact but not necessarily physical injury. In fact, the main harm of sexual assault is the accompanying emotional distress itself. Consequently, you can collect damages for emotional distress as a consequence of a successful sexual assault claim. 

Defamation Claims

A person defames you when they spread false rumors about you that harm you. If this is done verbally, it is slander. If it is done through the media, it is libel. In other words, slander and libel are two different forms of defamation.

Suppose, for example, that someone falsely claimed that you were once arrested for child sexual abuse. As a consequence, you lost your job as a teacher, you were interrogated by the police, and many of your friends cut off contact with you. 

You would suffer the economic damages of losing your job, of course. You would also probably experience a great deal of emotional distress, for which you would deserve compensation. 

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

In the State of Florida, intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) occurs when the following legal elements are all present at the same time:

  • The defendant deliberately or recklessly inflicted emotional suffering upon you;
  • The defendant’s conduct was outrageous;
  • The resulting emotional distress was severe; and
  • The defendant’s conduct was the proximate cause of your emotional distress.

Convincing someone that their loved one died in a car accident by telephoning them and impersonating a police officer is an example of intentional infliction of emotional distress claim that would probably succeed. The Florida “impact rule” (see below) does not apply to IIED. 

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

The differences between intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress are that in negligent infliction of emotional distress cases:

  • The defendant must have acted carelessly (negligently) rather than recklessly or intentionally; and 
  • The impact rule applies. This means the victim must have suffered some physical impact or some tangible physical harm (examples include PTSD, ulcers, or a heart attack.).

Negligent infliction of emotional distress is a relatively rare claim under Florida law, but it is technically possible to win one.

Proving Emotional Distress

Emotional distress can be difficult to prove because it is a subjective state of mind. It is especially difficult to prove the magnitude of emotional distress. Without this, it’s difficult to determine the precise amount of compensation. We cannot directly look into the mind of another to determine how much emotional distress they are experiencing. Courts do, however, accept certain ways of proving emotional distress, including the following:

  • The intensity of the distress. Courts tend to attribute more intense distress to intentional acts than to negligent acts.
  • The duration of the distress. How long did it last?
  • Do you suffer physical impact? This is irrelevant for some emotional distress claims, as discussed above.
  • Testimony or a signed statement by a doctor or psychologist.

There are also other ways to prove emotional distress.  

Schedule a Free Initial Case Consultation With an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you believe you might have an emotional distress claim, schedule a case consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. The lawyer can listen to your story, provide their evaluation of your claim, and explore your legal options with you. Your chances of success are much better with a lawyer than without one.

Contact Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers For Help Today

For more information, please contact the StuartPort St. Lucie, or Palm Beach Gardens personal injury law firm of Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.

We proudly serve Martin County,  St. Lucie CountyPalm Beach County, and its surrounding areas in Florida:

Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers
73 SW Flagler Ave
Stuart, FL 34994

(772) 444-7000

Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers Port St. Lucie
1100 SW St. Lucie West Blvd. Ste 202
Port St Lucie, FL 34986

(772) 247-3374

Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers Palm Beach Gardens
300 Avenue of the Champions Ste 220
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

(561) 944-4000