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Emotional Distress As Part Of Your Personal Injury Claim When you are injured in an accident that was caused by the reckless or negligent actions of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation by bringing a claim against the party who caused you harm. Depending on the specific facts of your accident, your attorney may file a claim for a variety of different causes of actions.

One cause of action that you may claim under California law is that of negligent infliction of emotional distress. This is not an independent tort, but rather the tort of negligence that involves the traditional elements of duty, breach, causation and damages.

When Can I Bring a Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim?

A cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress lies (commonly referred to as NIED) can be successfully claimed only if you have suffered serious emotional distress as a result of a breach of duty owed to you (the plaintiff) that is assumed or imposed upon the wrongdoer (the defendant) as a matter of law, or that arises out of a relationship between you and the wrongdoer. This relationship must be a preexisting and consensual relationship that resulted in a legally protectable interest.

California law recognizes two theories of NIED recovery: 1) the bystander theory and 2) the direct victim theory.

  • The Bystander Theory: Under this theory, you must prove that you were 1) closely related to the injured victim; 2) you were present at the scene of the accident at the time of occurrence and were aware of the injuries caused to the victim; and 3) as a result you suffered emotional distress beyond that which would be anticipated in a disinterested witness.
  • The Direct Victim Theory: Under this theory, you must prove that 1) the wrongdoer (defendant) owed you a duty; 2) the defendant breached that duty; 3) the breach caused you damages. It should be noted that under California law, there is no duty to avoid negligently causing emotional distress to another. As such, recovery is only available if the emotional distress arises out of the defendant’s breach of some other legal duty that proximately caused your emotional distress.

Call an Experienced Los Angeles Accident Attorney

The legal team at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas is dedicated to helping our accident clients who have suffered serious physical and emotional injuries reach the best monetary settlements.

If you or a loved one has any questions about your personal injury claim, our experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys are available to personally review your case.  Call us at 1-888-848-5048 to schedule a free, complimentary consultation with our legal team today.