Legal Resource Center

What is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?


Intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) is a civil tort that involves conduct that is so terrible and outrageous that it causes severe emotion distress and trauma to the victim. Although not all offensive conduct qualifies as IIED, when found, a victim can recover damages from the party that caused the trauma.


Required Elements for an IIED ClaimWhat is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?

Individual state laws vary, but the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress generally requires the following three elements:

(1) The defendant must act intentionally or recklessly;
(2) The defendant’s conduct must be extreme and outrageous; and
(3) The defendant’s conduct must cause the victim extreme emotional distress.

There is no a precise definition for extreme or outrageous conduct. A defendant’s conduct will likely be considered extreme or outrageous conduct if it is so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, that is goes beyond all possible bounds of decency. A defendant’s conduct must be more than just everyday run of the mill rude or offensive behavior as IIED does not include mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, or petty expressions. Typically, if a reasonable person would conclude that the behavior was extreme or outrageous then a defendant may be liable for committing IIED.

The defendant’s actions also must be the direct or foreseeable cause of the plaintiff’s emotional distress. If the defendant’s actions either are too attenuated to reasonably have caused the plaintiff’s distress, then the defendant is likely not liable. A reasonable nexus must exist between a defendant’s actions and the plaintiff’s emotional distress.

A plaintiff must also demonstrate serious emotional distress. The emotional distress suffered by the plaintiff must be very severe in nature. One can test the severity of the emotional distress by the intensity, duration, and physical manifestations of the emotional distress. Often a health care professional can document a lack of productivity or an aggravation of a mental disorder. Testimony about a change in the plaintiff’s behavior may also be persuasive. The type and amount of damages one may recover from an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim will vary. Damages may include health care expenses and loss of productivity.


Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Attorneys

If you believe you are victim of intentional infliction of emotion distress or are being accused of it for conduct related to the internet, contact the experienced internet attorneys at Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA (216) 831-0042 to evaluate your case.

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