Suing for Emotional Distress in New York

Suing for Emotional Distress

The injuries caused by an accident are rarely all physical. Victims and family members may suffer for years—or for life—as they deal with distress, trauma, and its consequences. Witnessing a family member’s severe injury or death can cause significant emotional stress, even in those who are unharmed. Fortunately, New York’s laws allow plaintiffs to sue for emotional distress, as explained below.

What is Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED)?

If someone’s reckless or careless conduct causes another person to fear for their safety and leads to emotional trauma, there may be a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress or NIED. A person can file such a claim if:

  • The defendant breached the duty of care, putting the plaintiff’s safety at risk
  • The defendant’s conduct was outrageous or extreme
  • The behavior led to the plaintiff’s emotional trauma

NIED claims are based on a defendant’s negligent—not intentional—actions. While physical injuries are common, they do not occur in all cases. A New York injury attorney can explain the nuances of these cases and provide the legal representation families need.

Definition of Emotional Distress and Common Symptoms

There are many symptoms of emotional distress. Accidents have different effects, and the symptoms of distress may not always appear right away. The most common signs are:

  • PTSD
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Flashbacks
  • Self-harming thoughts or behaviors
  • Substance abuse
  • Fear of the act that led to the accident

When a person survives a traumatic event and others didn’t, survivor’s guilt may occur. It is also a form of distress, and it may be compensable.

Can I Sue for Emotional Distress?

New York’s NIED laws have changed with time. For instance, at the end of the 1800s, a plaintiff couldn’t recover if they didn’t also suffer physical injuries. Today, even those who witnessed a traumatic event can file claims for NIED. So if you’re wondering “can you sue for emotional distress?”, a person can file if:

  • They saw a family member lose their life because of the defendant’s actions
  • They faced the threat of physical injury during the event
  • They suffered emotional injury due to the defendant’s conduct

Recently, the state Court of Appeals allowed grandparents to file such claims, but it has not yet imposed stricter limits. For now, spouses, parents, children, and siblings, along with grandparents can file NIED claims.

Emotional Distress Lawsuits

While all cases are different, plaintiffs can generally seek non-economic and economic damages for:

  • Lost wages and earning potential
  • Loss of companionship and consortium
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Psychological counseling
  • Lost quality of life
  • Reputational harm

If physical injuries have occurred, the claims can be combined. An injury attorney will determine the appropriate strategy to help clients recover everything to which they are entitled.

How Much Can I Sue for Emotional Distress?

When filing a lawsuit for trauma caused by an accident, there are many factors to consider. Putting any personal injuries aside, determining distress compensation requires sufficient documentation. For example, the costs affiliated with therapy and medication can be compensated in a lawsuit for the duration of the trauma.

Furthermore, the amount of compensation can include potential lost wages from being unable to work do to mental distress. Any additional costs affiliated with a victim’s wellbeing can be recovered if a lawyer can make a strong case.

Speak with an Emotional Distress Lawyer Today

In New York, plaintiffs only have three years from the date of an event to file NIED claims. To learn more about New York laws on the negligent infliction of emotional distress, schedule a consultation with an emotional distress lawyer in NYC.

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