What Is Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress?

You can recover compensation for personal injury, property damage or other interference with your rights under an area of the law called torts. While some torts are based on intentional conduct, the most common types are based on negligence — a defendant’s failure to act reasonably under the circumstances. Most often, recovering compensation under a theory of negligence requires you to have suffered some physical damage to either your person or your property. A less common tort — negligent infliction of emotional distress — can allow recovery in limited circumstances solely for emotional distress.

As a rule, a person cannot recover general damages for negligence — for example, emotional distress — without some actual physical injury having taken place, but the tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress provides an exception for those who have witnessed a serious accident involving a loved one.

Under this theory, people can recover compensation solely for emotional distress without having experienced any physical injury, as long as they can prove the following elements:

  • The accident that occurred was the result of the defendant’s negligence.
  • The victim was killed or suffered serious bodily injury.
  • The plaintiff actually witnessed the accident that caused the death or injury.
  • The plaintiff experienced severe emotional distress as a result of witnessing the accident.

Recovering compensation for negligent infliction of emotional distress can be difficult. Proving that a plaintiff actually experienced severe emotional distress usually requires extensive medical and psychiatric evidence.

An experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney can use this principle and many others to help you and your family obtain full compensation for the harm and suffering you experienced.

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