What to Expect When Claiming Emotional Distress in New York

Emotional Distress

How personal injury lawyers can make your case.

It’s not just the physical effects of an accident or injury that cause survivors pain. Emotional trauma can leave invisible wounds that take time to heal. If you’ve experienced emotional distress, a personal injury attorney can be your advocate in the New York court system.

What do I have to prove in New York courts to obtain compensation for emotional distress?

Emotional distress is a tort, which means that a person who has caused an injury or harm is responsible for that injury or harm.

In order to establish a tort in New York, the plaintiff must prove all of the following conditions:

  • Extreme and outrageous conduct
  • Intent to cause severe emotional distress
  • A causal connection between the conduct and the injury
  • Severe emotional distress

In Howell v. New York Post, the plaintiff, Pamela J. Howell, was receiving psychiatric treatment at a facility in Westchester. The plaintiff desired that her treatment there remain secret. A photographer from the New York Post gained access to the facility to take pictures of Hedda Nussbaum, another patient there, for a feature about Ms. Nussbaum’s daughter’s recent murder. One of the photos taken included the visible face of the plaintiff, who alleged that she experienced emotional distress due to the revelation of her treatment.

However, the court did not uphold this claim. Ms. Nussbaum, who was also in the photo, was considered a public figure due to past news coverage. Considering this factor, the court ruled that the Post’s behavior was not sufficiently outrageous to satisfy the claim of emotional distress.

Should I claim intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress?

As New York courts are concerned, there are two kinds of emotional distress: intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) and negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED). In cases of IIED, there does not need to be bodily harm for a plaintiff to recover damages. Because bodily harm is not necessarily present in instances of IIED, it is harder to prove—but an experienced personal injury attorney can make it easier to do so.

In most instances of NIED, there needs to be bodily harm in addition to emotional harm for a plaintiff to recover damages. It is typically easier to recover damages for NIED than for IIED. However, in either circumstance, a personal injury lawyer can assemble the evidence you need to make a strong claim.

When should I consult a New York personal injury lawyer?

If you are considering seeking compensation for an emotional distress injury, make sure that you are within the statute of limitations. In New York, the statute of limitations for an IIED claim is one year from the date of the alleged conduct; for an NIED claim, it is three years. Document your distress by seeking medical or psychological treatment. Once you confirm that you are within the statute of limitations for NIED or IIED and document your distress, it’s time to reach out to a personal injury lawyer.

What are my next steps when I need help with an emotional distress injury claim in New York?

While preparing an emotional distress claim might seem like a daunting task, Robinson & Yablon, P.C.’s experienced personal injury attorneys can start your case on the right foot and help guide you every step along the way. With more than 100 years of combined experience representing injury victims in New York, we have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients. Keep calm and call our New York office today at (212) 725-8566.

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