A Sebastian woman is suing the Tiki Bar & Grill, a local business, for $15,000, alleging “mental and emotional distress” after she tripped on a wooden step on May 30th, 2019.
Karen Schultz alleges the step was in a state of disrepair, poorly lit, and improperly placed on the property. The Tiki Bar is accused of creating dangerous conditions and failing to exercise “reasonable care” by warning patrons.
Schultz “suffered bodily injury and resulting pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, medical care and treatment, loss of earnings, and loss of ability to earn money in the past and in the future,” court records reveal. Schultz also “suffered mental and emotional distress,” according to the lawsuit.
Defining emotional distress
Following an accident, some injuries are visible immediately. As a result, the claimant may be entitled to various damages intended to help them heal (the cost of hospital bills and physical therapy, for example).
However, people may also experience a number of emotional issues after an accident, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, anger and fear. These negative emotions may adversely affect a person’s quality of life. For this reason, they may be able to legally receive damages for emotional distress. Of course, money doesn’t always make up for the emotional distress experienced, but it’s the best compensation the courts can offer.
Florida’s impact rule
As explained by Friedland & Associates, emotional distress laws in Florida come with an important clause that differentiates them from most other states: the impact rule. This rule essentially places a limit on emotional distress damage. For a claim to be successful, the claimant must have been physically harmed in some way. This prevents many people who have experienced emotional distress from being able to sue.
The rule, however, does have some exceptions – for example, in the cases of intentional infliction of emotional distress; injury to reputation (defamation); consumption of contaminated food; and freestanding torts (negligent stillbirth or wrongful birth).
Florida’s impact rule can complicate emotional distress cases. Emotional distress needs to be proven by either your own testimony, medical evidence, or testimony from a therapist or friends or family.
Rather than assuming you have no valid claim for emotional distress, it’s important you meet with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.