In the overwhelming workplaces of Los Angeles, emotional distress often lurks in the shadows, affecting countless individuals who may not even realize they have the right to seek help and compensation. This silent suffering is more common than one might think. Imagine the dedicated employees who endure daily workplace harassment, discrimination, and emotional abuse, leaving them with scars that run deeper than the visible ones. Anxiety, depression, and panic attacks become their unwelcome companions, and the toll on their emotional well-being can be overwhelming.
At Kirakosian Law in Los Angeles, we understand the profound impact that emotional distress can have on people’s lives. That’s why in this blog, we’ll be shedding light on this often-hidden aspect of employee rights and offering our expertise to those who need it most. We believe that nobody should have to endure such hardships silently, and we’re here to ensure that your emotional well-being is protected.
What Is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress in the context of law refers to the psychological suffering or trauma experienced by an individual as a result of another party’s wrongful actions or negligence. It’s a crucial component of many legal claims, particularly in cases related to personal injury, harassment, discrimination, or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Here’s a more detailed exploration of emotional distress in the legal context:
Causes of Emotional Distress in Law:
- Personal Injury: In personal injury cases, emotional distress can result from physical harm or the fear of imminent harm. For example, a car accident victim may experience anxiety, nightmares, or depression following the crash due to the emotional trauma associated with the accident.
- Intentional Torts: Emotional distress can also stem from intentional harm or wrongdoing by another party. This includes cases of harassment, assault, defamation, or invasion of privacy, where the victim may suffer severe emotional distress as a direct result of the defendant’s actions.
- Workplace Harassment and Discrimination: In employment law, emotional distress often arises in cases of workplace harassment or discrimination. Employees who experience ongoing mistreatment, bullying, or discrimination may develop anxiety, depression, or other psychological symptoms as a consequence of their experiences.
What Can Cause Emotional Distress
In tort law, there are two main types of cases related to causing emotional distress: intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) and negligent infliction of emotional distress (often called bystander action).
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED):
IIED happens when someone deliberately or recklessly makes another person suffer severe emotional distress, like by threatening physical harm or engaging in outrageous behavior.
To prove an IIED case, you typically need to show that the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly, and their actions were so extreme that they caused severe emotional distress that could harm a person’s mental health.
However, it’s important to note that free speech rights can sometimes limit IIED claims. Simply speaking negatively about someone, especially if they are a public figure, usually isn’t enough for an IIED case. The person’s behavior must be truly outrageous, going beyond just criticism or expressing unpopular ideas.
For example, IIED might apply if someone repeatedly shouts hurtful things at an actor in front of an audience. But, courts must be careful not to stifle free speech or unpopular opinions while allowing IIED claims to proceed. Balancing these concerns is crucial in these cases.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED)
Negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) is a legal concept where someone experiences emotional distress due to someone else’s negligence. However, how NIED cases are handled varies from state to state.
States generally fall into three categories regarding NIED claims:
- Foreseeable Distress: In most states, you can make a NIED claim if it was reasonable to expect that the defendant’s actions would cause you emotional distress.
- Zone of Danger: Some states only allow NIED claims if you were in a situation where you narrowly avoided physical harm and were afraid for your safety. For instance, if someone attacked a server at a restaurant, people sitting nearby might fear for their safety and have a NIED claim.
- Physical Injury Requirement: A few states demand that you must have suffered some physical injury yourself to make a NIED claim, although California isn’t one of them.
So, whether you can make a NIED claim and how damages are calculated depend on where you are and the circumstances of the case.
How Easy Is It To Prove Emotional Distress?
Proving a case of intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) can be challenging because you need to establish several key elements:
- Duty and Outrageous Behavior: You must show that the defendant had a duty to act reasonably and not engage in extreme or outrageous behavior likely to cause distress. In essence, they had a responsibility to behave in a way that wouldn’t harm your emotional well-being.
- Breach of Duty: It’s crucial to demonstrate that the defendant breached this duty by intentionally or recklessly engaging in behavior that is truly outrageous. This means their actions went far beyond what is considered acceptable in society.
- Causing Distress and Harm: You need to establish that the defendant’s actions directly caused you significant distress and harm. This can include emotional suffering, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms.
Proving emotional distress can be challenging because it often involves demonstrating the impact of the defendant’s actions on your mental health. Having documentation, such as a diagnosis of conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety that resulted from the defendant’s actions, can be especially compelling in court.
In some cases, even if you weren’t the direct target of the defendant’s outrageous behavior, you may still have a valid claim for IIED. This is known as the bystander law, where someone who is close to the person who was intentionally targeted can also sue for emotional distress, even if they weren’t the primary victim.
While proving emotional distress can be complex, having an experienced lawyer like Kirakosian Law on your side can make a significant difference. They can help gather evidence, build a compelling case, and navigate the legal intricacies to ensure your rights are protected and that you have the best chance of achieving a favorable outcome in your IIED claim. Demonstrating emotional distress may not be easy, but with the right legal representation, it is possible to seek justice and compensation for the harm you’ve endured.
Kirakosian Law & Your Emotional Distress
In the realm of emotional distress claims in Los Angeles, the expertise of seasoned emotional distress lawyers is indispensable. Kirakosian Law, with its deep understanding of the legal intricacies surrounding emotional distress cases, stands as a beacon of support for individuals seeking justice for their emotional suffering.
Their commitment to protecting the rights and well-being of clients sets them apart as a trusted ally in navigating the complex legal landscape of emotional distress claims. With Kirakosian Law by your side, you can find solace in knowing that dedicated professionals are working tirelessly to ensure that you receive the compensation and justice you rightfully deserve.