Emotional Distress, Privacy, and Dignitary Torts
By FindLaw Staff | Legally reviewed by Garrett Monteagudo, Esq. | Last reviewed January 20, 2023
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From time to time, injuries can be emotional or mental. Under those circumstances, they are not immediately apparent.
If another person has caused your emotional injury, you might be able to sue that person for the injury for which they are responsible. You can also sue another person if they invade your privacy.
Both invasion of privacy and emotional distress claims have high hurdles a plaintiff must clear to be successful in their case.
Continue reading for more information about the elements you'll need to prove in order to prevail in a lawsuit for invasion of privacy or intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Invasion of Privacy
Invasion of privacy is the intrusion into the personal life of another person without consent. However, invasion of privacy is not the cause of action or tort for which you would sue another person. The four most common types of causes of action related to invasion of privacy are:
- Appropriation of name or likeness,
- Intrusion upon seclusion,
- False light, and
- Public disclosure of private facts.
An invasion of privacy can include more than the name of the tort would suggest. It can include the use or misuse of your personal information or identity. For example, using a person's name or likeness without their consent constitutes an invasion of privacy. Examples of such likenesses could be a photo or cartoon of the person.
States vary on which causes of action they recognize under the theory of invasion of privacy. States also have their own elements for each cause of action. For these reasons, it's important to check your state's laws or consult with a local attorney before filing a lawsuit.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
We live in a society of people with different personalities and sensitivities. What's offensive to one person might not be offensive to someone else. It's also unreasonable for people to expect never to have to deal with a certain level of rude or offensive conduct. However, if someone's conduct is so terrible that it causes emotional trauma, it's possible to have a valid case against that person.
Each state has its own rules for what constitutes intentional infliction of emotional distress. Generally speaking, however, the elements are defined as extreme or outrageous conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress. If these elements are proven, a person can recover for the emotional distress and any bodily harm that resulted from the emotional stress.
There are also certain circumstances under which a person can recover for emotional distress even if the outrageous or extreme conduct wasn't directed at them. To recover under these circumstances, more elements than the standard definition of intentional infliction of emotional distress must be proven. For example, if an individual directs extreme or outrageous conduct at an immediate family member of the plaintiff and the plaintiff witnesses the conduct, they could have an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against the actor.
Hiring a Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered an invasion of privacy or emotional distress because of the conduct of another person, you may want to contact a local personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.
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