Is Emotional Abuse Against the Law?

What Is Required to File an IIED Lawsuit in California

In many situations, emotional abuse is a type of domestic violence and therefore, it is illegal. However, it can be difficult to determine what can qualify as emotional abuse. There is not a single legal definition of abuse because there are so many forms of abuse.

Generally speaking, emotional abuse happens in a situation where there is a power imbalance. Emotional abuse can lead to anxiety, depression, and other psychological symptoms for the victim. It is typically harder to identify than physical abuse, but it is just as impactful for the victim.

Under California law, the technical name for a lawsuit for emotional abuse is “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress” (IIED). To file an IIED lawsuit, the victim needs to show the following:

  • The defendant must act intentionally or recklessly
  • The defendant’s conduct must be extreme and outrageous
  • The conduct must be the cause of the severe emotional distress

In order for the defendant’s conduct to be considered “outrageous,” it must fall outside the bounds of decency. This can include creating or taking advantage of a position of authority within a relationship. The following factors go into determining if the defendant’s conduct was outrageous:

  • Whether the defendant abused a position of authority or a relationship that gave the defendant the real or apparent power to affect the plaintiff interests
  • Whether the defendant knew that the plaintiff was particularly vulnerable to emotional distress
  • Whether the defendant knew that their conduct would result in emotional harm

Under California law, “severe emotional distress” can include the following:

  • Suffering
  • Anguish
  • Fright, horror
  • Nervousness
  • Grief
  • Anxiety
  • Worry
  • Shock
  • Humiliation
  • Shame

Furthermore, to be recoverable under California’s “intentional infliction” law, emotional distress must be severe. One key factor in these cases is proving that the defendant knew that what they were doing was harmful. To prove this kind of domestic abuse case, we will need to show a pattern of abuse over time or abuse that goes beyond what a reasonable person could withstand.

How Do You Prove Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?

Under California law, intentional infliction of emotional distress is a cause of action that allows a victim to recover compensatory and punitive damages. An example of this type of tort would be acting with intent to cause another severe emotional distress, such as issuing the threat of future harm. Certain intentional actions that can meet the prima facie case for an IIED. A prima facie case is a cause of action or defense that is sufficiently established by a party’s evidence to justify a verdict in their favor.

Overall, suing for emotional distress is not an easy process, and neither is being sued for emotional distress. It helps to have experienced attorneys on your side. To win this kind of case, you must document medical records, work records, and personal journaling to back up the case. For example, you could have an electronic health tracker monitoring your heart rate and sleeping habits. The more you document the distresses, the easier it will be to recover damages. When we examine the facts of this case, we will work to prove the following facts in your favor:

  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress

We must prove that the defendant caused this harm intentionally. In a court of law, this is likely the first defense they will attempt to make, so it is important that we make this part of the case abundantly clear.

  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress

If you have undergone emotional distress due to the negligence of another, it is possible for damages to be awarded to you. However, we must establish that you have suffered emotional distress, and the documents you gather will help us do that. Some of the avenues that you can use to show that you have sustained an emotional injury include:

Professional diagnosis

Physical manifestation of an emotional problem

Persistent pain

Intensity of mental anguish

Serious underlying cause

To learn more about the rules of IIED cases in California, call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.

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