What is Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress?

What is negligent infliction of emotional distress?  Infliction of emotional distress can either be intentional (such as threatening to kill someone) or negligent (causing someone mental distress through a negligent act or omission).  To prevail in an action for negligent infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff must:

  1. Be within the “zone of danger” and have had a physical impact that caused the distress; and
  2. Suffer physical symptoms from the distress.

The “zone of danger” requirement means that the plaintiff must be close to the negligent activity.  For example, if a defendant driver negligently runs a red light and almost hits a plaintiff pedestrian, and that pedestrian shock causes him to have a heart attack, the pedestrian may recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress.  The physical symptoms requirement means that the distress must manifest itself into some physical problem (i.e., nervous breakdown, miscarriage, heart attack, etc.).

Also, even bystanders to a negligent event may be able to recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress.  In Florida, no impact is required if there are physical injuries caused by emotional distress if:

  1. The defendant negligently injures a party with whom the bystander has a close emotional attachment (such as child, parent, or spouse, but not “significant others”);
  2. The negligent injury occurs within the “sensory perception” of the bystander (sees or hears the event, arrives upon the scene while the injured party is still there); and
  3. The bystander has clear, discernible physical impairment following the psychic trauma.

Negligent infliction of emotional distress claims are tricky and hard to prove. However, under the right circumstances, these claims can be recovered on. The LaBovick Law Group has a team of attorneys that concentrate their practice on personal injury claims and are experienced handling matters of negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Free Case Evaluation all fields required *