Under certain circumstances, a person may recover for injuries and damages resulting from emotional distress that was caused by the intentional or negligent acts or omissions of another. The defendant may be held liable for intentionally or recklessly causing emotional distress if the conduct in question was extreme and outrageous.
Evidence Required in Emotional Distress Cases
The emotional distress or mental injury must be medically diagnosable and must be of sufficient severity so as to be medically significant. In fact, it should be serious enough to require medical attention. For example, in one case, evidence of nausea and loss of sleep by the plaintiff was not enough to show emotional distress of sufficient severity to be medically significant. Similarly, in another Missouri case, nausea and loss of sleep without the need for medical attention did not amount to medically “significant” harm.
Differences Between Kansas and Missouri Law
In Missouri, it is unnecessary that the plaintiff sustain a contemporaneous physical injury as a result of the defendant’s conduct. Missouri considers the term “extreme and outrageous conduct” to encompass actions that are so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond “all possible bounds of decency,” and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.
In Kansas, on the other hand, a plaintiff may not recover damages for emotional distress caused by the defendant’s negligence “unless it is accompanied by or results in physical injury.” Further, a plaintiff cannot recover for aggravation of an existing mental condition caused by a negligent damaging of property.
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