Infliction of emotional distress lawsuits

Following a serious personal injury or medical malpractice event, victims may be left facing a variety of extreme hardships including overwhelming hospital bills, ongoing medical treatment, physical pain, and long term emotional suffering. Although nothing can take back the harm done, the laws gives injury victims the legal right to recover compensation from those who caused the accident.

DC statute on damages for emotional distress

Restatement (Third) of Torts, sec. 46:

§ 46 Negligent Conduct Directly Inflicting Emotional Disturbance on Another

An actor whose negligent conduct causes serious emotional

disturbance to another is subject to liability to the other if the


(a) places the other in immediate danger of bodily harm and the

emotional disturbance results from the danger; or

(b) occurs in the course of specified categories of activities,

undertakings, or relationships in which negligent conduct is

especially likely to cause serious emotional disturbance.

DC injury laws allow victims to recover compensation for both pecuniary damages (monetary) and non-monetary damages for pain and suffering, including emotional distress. Washington, DC courts have outlined several types of cases where victims can recover damages for emotional distress, including:

  • Pain and suffering directly resulting from a personal injury, such as an auto crash or medical malpractice event
  • Negligent conduct likely to cause emotional distress where defendants have a legal duty to care for the wellbeing of the victim, such as a doctor delivering positive diagnosis which turns out to be false
  • Spouses filing suit against negligent parties for the loss of consortium (emotional enjoyment), husbands and wives suing the defendant for the loss of time spent with their spouse
  • Emotional distress from being placed in the “zone of danger,” being near a dangerous accident where the plaintiff believed he or she would suffer a serious injury
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress in “extreme and outrageous” situations, repeated harassment, stalking, or death threats (see below for more details)

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