Michigan Intentional and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
Emotional distress, as you might imagine, occurs when a person’s conduct causes another person’s severe distress. Depending on the relationship between the parties and the way in which the severe distress was caused, there are different avenues of recovery for a plaintiff.
Intentional infliction of emotional distress, despite its name, covers both intentional and reckless conduct on the part of the defendant. In order to prevail, a plaintiff must prove 1) outrageous conduct and 2) severe distress. Generally speaking, name-calling is NOT outrageous conduct; although if it’s continuous and the victim is a protected class (child, senior citizen, pregnant woman, etc.), the plaintiff may be able to recover.
Negligent infliction of emotional distress comes in 3 different varieties:
- Near miss: Someone’s conduct is negligent (like blowing through a red light and nearly hitting the plaintiff) but there’s no contact between the plaintiff and the defendant. In order to prevail, a plaintiff must prove:
- He or she was in the physical zone of danger
- A subsequent manifestation of stress caused by being in that near-miss physical zone of danger (lack of sleep is not enough, but having a miscarriage or losing your hair is)
- Bystander claims: You witnessed a horrific event involving your family member. This requires a relationship between the victim and plaintiff that saw the incident, including immediate family members (spouse, parent, child).
- The event was perceived as it happened, or fairly contemporaneously after it happened
- Business relationship: This is a highly foreseeable relationship that is likely to induce stress. It’s best noted through an example:
- If a medical patient is erroneously told he or she has AIDS and that mistake leads to severe distress as a result.
At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’ve been fighting for your rights for more than 30 years, recovering millions of dollars for our clients in Detroit and Metro Detroit. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligent or intentional conduct, contact our Southfield, Michigan firm. We’re here for you when you need us most.