Suing for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in San Diego, CA

Negligent infliction of emotional distress is when a party’s negligent actions cause emotional distress to another person. Even if you didn’t suffer any actual physical harm, in California, you could still bring a case for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED).

Since these types of cases can be difficult to prove, it’s wise to consult an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney before you get started. 

What Counts As Emotional Distress in California?

In California, emotional distress is defined as: 

  • Emotional harm and trauma
  • Suffering
  • Anguish
  • Fright
  • Horror
  • Nervousness
  • Grief
  • Anxiety
  • Worry
  • Shock 
  • Mental distress 
  • Humiliation 
  • Shame 

Emotional distress is considered serious if a reasonable person could not manage the mental stress caused by whatever the particular circumstances of a given case were. 

When Can You Bring a Claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in California?

According to the California Supreme Court, there are two different theories by which someone can get compensation for negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. The theories are called the direct victim theory and the bystander theory. 

The Direct Victim Theory

A person can bring an NIED claim under this theory if several elements are shown:

  • The at-fault party was negligent;
  • That negligence caused the claimant emotional distress; and
  • The claimant actually suffered emotional harm.

Here’s an example of this theory. A woman sued her doctor for NIED after her baby was severely injured during birth. The court found that the doctor was negligent and that the plaintiff was entitled to compensation for the emotional distress she endured watching her child get injured during the delivery. 

The Bystander Theory

Under this theory, the claimant bringing the case isn’t the victim of negligent behavior. So there is no duty of care owed to the claimant. 

To prove emotional distress under the bystander theory, one needs to show that:

  • The at-fault party’s negligence caused a serious injury or death to a person;
  • The claimant was there when the accident occurred and knew the person was being harmed; 
  • The claimant was closely related to the injured party; and
  • The claimant actually suffered emotional distress.

Here’s an example of a case using the bystander theory. A mother watched her young child get hit by a car whose driver was negligent. The mother wasn’t directly injured by the accident but was instead a bystander. 

Since the person that was actually injured was her child and because she witnessed the accident, the mother could bring a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

A claimant doesn’t have to actually see the accident. But they have to have been aware it was happening in another sensory manner. 

What Damages Can You Claim for Emotional Distress?

In a personal injury claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, you can ask for both economic (financial) damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages would include compensation for medical bills, therapeutic counseling, and any lost wages from missed work.

Non-economic damages would be compensation for any pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that you have suffered. An experienced San Diego personal injury attorney will be able to help you calculate the full extent of the damages you suffered. 

Contact the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information

If you have questions about whether you or a loved one has a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, contact an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer. An attorney can assess your case and advise whether you have a viable claim.

If you’ve been injured in San Diego or Chula Vista, please call Mission Personal Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer or contact us online.

We proudly serve San Diego County and throughout California.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108

(619) 777-5555

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – Chula Vista Office
690 Otay Lakes Rd #130, Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 722-3032

We also serve the state of Texas. Contact our personal injury law office in El Paso for legal assistance today.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – El Paso Office
201 E Main Suite 106, El Paso, Texas 79901
(915) 591-1000