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Emotional Distress: Legal Claims for the Pain of a Loved One

Posted on in Personal Injury

Wisonsin personal injury attorney, Wisonsin car crash lawyer, Wisconsin wrongful death lawyerIt is never easy to go through the loss or severe injury of a loved one in an accident, and no amount of compensation can fully heal them. However, the law does offer a variety of claims to ensure that the careless people responsible for their injuries are held responsible. One important claim that is discussed less than some of the others is the negligent infliction of emotional distress. Claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress allow people to recover for the emotional pain that they suffer from watching their loved one be involved in a severe accident. Yet, it is important for claimants to note that these types of claims are somewhat controversial, so the law places limitations on their use.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

The law recognizes that a person whose loved one is involved in a serious accident will suffer very real pain as a result of their concern and shock over the accident. Consequently, a decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court allows people whose loved ones were involved in an accident to bring a legal claim to recover for that pain.

In order to prevail on a claim of negligent emotional distress, a person must demonstrate three things. First, they must show that the defendant engaged in some sort of negligent conduct, such as speeding or driving under the influence. Second, they must show that the negligent conduct cause the accident. Third, they must demonstrate that they were injured, in this case through showing emotional distress. This last prong is the most difficult to demonstrate, and it is where much of the controversy stems from.

Controversy over Emotional Distress Claims

Although negligent infliction of emotional distress claims can be used in cases of legitimate emotional suffering, there is a longstanding concern in American law that people will bring fraudulent or trivial emotional distress claims into court. Many states have tried different ways to curtail these suits, such as requiring a physical injury in addition to emotional distress, or requiring that the person bringing the claim must have also been in danger. Wisconsin used to use these strategies, but now imposes a different set of three restrictions in order to control negligent infliction of emotional distress claims.

First, the accident victim must have been seriously injured or killed. A less severe injury does not give rise to a legal action for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Second, the person bringing the claim must be a close relative of the injured victim, such as a spouse or a parent. Finally, the person bringing the claim must have actually witnessed the accident or its immediate aftermath themselves.

Having a loved one involved in an accident can be a difficult experience, but there are options available. If you or a family member has been injured in an accident, contact a skilled Milwaukee personal injury attorney today to learn about your rights.
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