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How do you sue for emotional distress?

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Quick Answer

An individual can sue for emotional distress by initiating a lawsuit for either negligent infliction of emotional distress or intentional infliction of emotional distress, LegalMatch says. Damages are generally limited to the severity of the emotional distress.

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Full Answer

Generally, an individual initiates an emotional distress action if he is a victim of emotional distress as defined by state laws, LegalMatch explains. In some states, a plaintiff must prove that an actual physical injury occurred as the result of emotional distress brought on by the defendant's conduct.

There are two ways an individual can sue for emotional distress, LegalMatch says. The first way is emotional distress by negligent infliction. In this circumstance, the plaintiff must prove the negligence was so bad that it resulted in injury or physical symptoms. The second is emotional distress by intentional inflection. For this instance, the plaintiff must prove that severe emotional trauma is the result of someone intentionally acting in an outrageous and intolerable manner.

It's very difficult to sue and be successful when claiming intentional emotional distress, the law offices of Jacob B. Smith says. Collecting damages in these types of cases is extremely difficult, even if an individual is successful in proving the emotional distress. If an individual has success proving someone caused him emotional suffering, he may have a difficult time proving the outrageous conduct has the criteria needed for awarding damages.

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