There are times when, as a result of a traumatic situation, a person can experience emotional distress even though they may not have any physical injuries or they may have not have even been involved in the accident. Sometimes, an event can be distressing to the point where a party continues to feel the effects of the event emotionally. If you have been emotionally distressed by a traumatic accident or injury it is best to seek the advice of a local attorney for guidance. In Illinois, the courts recognize two types of emotional distress: intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress.

There are several elements to prove emotional distress was intentionally inflicted:

The conduct of the defendant was extreme and outrageous.

This element depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. The reaction to the conduct will be determined by a “reasonable person” standard. This means that an ordinary person, with ordinary sensibilities, would have suffered the same distress. Extreme conduct has to be more than just insults, threats, or vulgarities. It has to be conduct that was outside the norms of common decency. This means that the conduct will be compared to contemporary standards of social interaction.

The defendant intended to cause emotional distress, or was reckless or consciously disregarded the likelihood of it.

This element will delve into the conduct of the defendant and whether or not they were certain that their conduct would cause emotional distress.

The plaintiff did in fact suffer from emotional distress.

This must be more than embarrassment, humiliation, anger, horror, worry, or shame. The standard is that is must be so severe that no reasonable person would be expected to endure it. Courts may look to physical manifestations (e.g., nervous tics) of the distress although a plaintiff is not required to have them in Illinois.

The conduct of the defendant was the proximate cause of that distress.

In civil torts, there must be a logical nexus between the injury alleged and the conduct of the defendant.

There are many instances in personal injury actions where IIED may be alleged. One instance is in the case of severe physical injuries as a result of a traumatic intentional tort, like an extreme battery case, for example. Depending on how the plaintiff was injured, the defendant may have acted so recklessly that a reasonable person may be emotionally distressed by the situation. Another example is false imprisonment. The higher the authority that unreasonably detains a person, the greater the likelihood that a reasonable person would suffer emotional distress from that incident.

Damages in these actions depend on the severity of the injury, but a plaintiff will only be compensated for the injury suffered and not any consequential injuries like lost wages. Note that punitive damages are not allowed for these claims.


This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance. If you were emotionally injured by an accident please call one of our attorneys at David K. Kremin & Associates, and we will give you a free consultation. We never charge unless we collect for you. Please call 1(800) ASK-A-LAWYER or 1(800)275-2529.