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Emotional Distress

Emotional distress is the undue emotional suffering caused by another person. This suffering could be caused by any number of actions, including kidnapping a person’s child, falsely informing a person that a loved one has died, assault, false imprisonment, defamation, etc. In some states, like California, emotional distress on its own is enough to allow the plaintiff to seek damages.

Emotional distress has many components, including:

  • mental anguish
  • depression
  • fright
  • anxiety
  • grief
  • humiliation
  • embarrassment
  • physical pain

The plaintiff must prove that these feelings were caused by the defendant’s actions alone. These actions can include:

  • assault and battery
  • medical misdiagnosis
  • defamation
  • deliberately falsely informing of someone’s death
  • kidnapping
  • false imprisonment
  • medical malpractice

Recent cases in which a person has sought damages relating to emotional distress include:

  • A woman who came across a car accident in which her fiancée and another woman, the driver of the car (who later became the defendant) were involved. The fiancée died. The woman sought damages for her emotional distress at having to see the death.
  • A man sought damages after a car hit his motorcycle and resulted in the death of his passenger, his girlfriend.
  • People have been filing emotional distress claims after they find out they received medical transplants and allograft implants using parts illegally taken from cadavers. 
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