Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress is an intentional tort claim that has been developed recently. It covers intentional conduct that results in extreme emotional distress. Some courts and a number of legal commentators have substituted mental for emotional. Either way, the tort is the same. Some jurisdictions refer to IIED as the tort of outrage.
IIED was created in tort law to address the problem that would arise when applying the tort law of assault. The law of assault does not allow someone to recover for damages when the threat was not imminent. A common case would be a future threat of harm that would not constitute common law assault. An individual would issue a threat for the future but it would nevertheless cause harm to the threatened individual.
IIED was created to guard against emotional abuse and allows a victim of emotional distress to receive compensation in situations where he or she would otherwise be barred from recovery.
Originally, a plaintiff could not recover for physical injury that was caused by fright alone. Even if there is intentional conduct, claims for emotional harm were barred unless there were material damages. The law could not value mental pain or anxiety. Courts were concerned that accepting a tort for emotional harm would open a wide door to frivolous claims.
In order for a claim of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress to succeed, a person must be able to prove all of the elements. The elements are: