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Emotional Distress, Privacy, and Dignitary Torts

From time to time, injuries can be emotional or mental. Under those circumstances, they are not immediately apparent like physical injuries.

If another person has caused your emotional injury, you might be able to sue that person. You can also sue another person if they invade your privacy. Here, you would be suing for dignitary torts, or civil wrongs that harm someone's dignity.

As dignitary torts, 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:

  1. Invasion of privacy
  2. Intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED)

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 (claim) or tort (civil wrong) for which you would sue another person. The four most common types of claims related to invasion of privacy are:

An invasion of privacy can include more than the name of the tort would suggest. It can include the use or misuse of your private 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.

State personal injury laws 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. You should check your state's laws or consult a local attorney before filing these kinds of personal injury lawsuits.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

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. If someone's conduct is so terrible that it causes emotional trauma to a reasonable person, 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. Some states also have a variation known as negligent infliction of emotional distress. Generally speaking, however, it is defined as extreme or outrageous conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress.

The types of emotional distress can include post-traumatic stress disorder or harm to one's mental health. If the required elements are proven, a person can recover for the emotional distress (mental anguish). They can also recover for any physical harm resulting from the emotional stress.

Different types of damages are recoverable in this kind of personal injury claim. Recovery includes actual damages in the form of economic losses. These are easily calculated damages, such as medical bills for medical treatment. Recovery also includes non-economic damages, such as loss of enjoyment of life, emotional suffering, and emotional distress damages.

There are also certain circumstances under which a person can recover for emotional distress even if the extreme conduct wasn't directed at them. To recover under these circumstances, more elements must be proven. For example, if an individual directs outrageous conduct at an immediate family member of the plaintiff and the plaintiff witnesses the conduct as a bystander, they could have an emotional distress lawsuit 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.

Personal injury cases involving emotional harm and mental suffering are fair game for insurance companies. An attorney can give you a free case evaluation and help you recover your money for your legal claim. You should hire a personal injury lawyer sooner than later, as there is a time limit (statute of limitations) after which you will be legally barred from filing your lawsuit.

Learn About Emotional Distress and Privacy

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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