Many personal injury cases focus on the physical harm caused by another party’s negligence, which can include both bodily injuries and property damage. However, the emotional distress related to an accident or a similar trauma can also cause severe, long-lasting effects that are just as real and damaging as a physical injury.
There are two primary ways in which civil tort lawsuits handle issues of emotional distress. The first is through compensation for pain and suffering related to a physical injury or similar accident. Unlike damages for medical bills or damaged property, damages for pain and suffering target the physical pain and the emotional suffering surrounding the accident. Often, damages for pain and suffering are involved in lawsuits in which one party’s negligent behavior causes harm to another.
When one party’s actions are not negligent but intentional, however, Alabama law provides for a claim known as a “tort of outrage.” This type of claim recognizes that in some instances, the emotional harm caused to a person is injurious enough to warrant damages even if no physical injury occurred.
To recover under a tort of outrage (known as “intentional infliction of emotional distress” in some jurisdictions), the injured person must show that:
- The defendant’s actions were intentional or reckless,
- The actions were “extreme and outrageous,”
- The actions caused the injured person’s emotional or mental anguish, and
- The emotional or mental anguish was so extreme that “no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.”
While some cases of intentional infliction of emotional distress also include bodily injuries, proving that physical harm occurred is not essential to establishing that another party is liable.
If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence or intentional infliction of trauma, distress, or harm, you have options. Talk to an experienced Alabama injury lawyer who can help you understand your legal options and choose a plan of action that aligns with your goals.