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person suffering emotional distress in Hawaii

Can You Sue Someone for Emotional Distress in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, individuals who have suffered significant emotional harm due to someone else’s conduct may question their rights for recourse. They might ask, “Can you sue someone for emotional distress in Hawaii?” The answer is that it is possible to sue for emotional distress in Hawaii, under certain conditions. This article will explore the legal avenues available, the proof required, and the complexities involved in these types of lawsuits.

Key Takeaways

  • In Hawaii, emotional distress claims can be based on intentional or negligent infliction, but must satisfy stringent legal criteria including foreseeability and severity, and are often complex due to the subjective nature of emotional harm.
  • Proving emotional distress in court requires evidence of extreme and outrageous conduct, intent or recklessness by the defendant, and severe emotional distress experienced by the plaintiff.
  • Olson & Sons provides comprehensive legal representation for emotional distress claims, addressing the difficulties such as Hawaii’s specific laws on damages, statutes of limitations, and challenges in proving subjective emotional harm.

Emotional Distress in Hawaii: Legal Basis

In Hawaii’s legal system, there are two primary types of emotional distress claims: the intentional infliction and negligent infliction of emotional distress. These categories encompass a wide range of circumstances under which an individual’s emotional health may suffer due to someone else’s behavior.

The claim for intentional infliction is recognized when deliberate actions by an individual are so heinous and excessive that they cause severe emotional distress. This suggests a malicious or profoundly reckless disregard for the victim’s state of mind. Conversely, a claim for negligent infliction arises from careless conduct leading to unintended but impactful harm to another person’s psychological welfare. It should be noted that in Hawaii, damages related solely to property damage do not typically qualify for compensation concerning alleged emotional distress unless it accompanies physical injury or mental illness.

These claims pivot on the predictability and intensity of the harm caused. Thus, in order for such allegations to stand legally firm – according to what the plaintiff alleges – the resultant agony must have been predictable based on the defendant’s deed(s), as well as intensely disturbing since minor irritations or stress often fail threshold standards required by law.

Although these principles appear clear-cut theoretically, translating them into action within actual cases proves more complicated given subjective interpretations associated with any claimed afflictions—Although these principles appear clear-cut theoretically, translating them into action within actual cases proves more complicated due to subjective interpretations associated with any claimed afflictions—highlighting why professional guidance through firms like Olson & Sons plays such a significant role in managing the complexities present throughout judicial processes.


Proving Emotional Distress in Hawaii

To establish emotional distress within the legal framework, one must go beyond simply recounting their subjective feelings. Legal standards necessitate evidence of extreme and outrageous conduct along with either intent or recklessness, culminating in severe emotional distress.

Given that these components are inherently open to interpretation based on individual circumstances, they will be weighed differently from case to case. At times it may be contended that the trial court made an incorrect ruling. The complexity of these elements means that summary judgment might not always be appropriate since jurors are instrumental in assessing such claims—highlighting why it’s essential for plaintiffs to mount a persuasive argument at trial.


Extreme and Outrageous Conduct

Establishing a legitimate emotional distress claim hinges on demonstrating that the defendant engaged in behavior that is considered extreme and outrageous. The offensive actions must transcend mere spitefulness, offensiveness, rudeness, or severity. They should be so egregious as to surpass what a civil society deems acceptable.

When we delve into the meaning of “extreme and outrageous” conduct within the context of Hawaii’s judiciary, it becomes clear that insignificant annoyances, minor vexations, menaces or other inconsequential acts do not suffice. Instead, such behavior must represent an egregious violation of societal norms concerning human decency—far exceeding these petty matters. It is important to note the substantial difficulty plaintiffs often face in establishing proof for extreme and outrageous conduct given defense arguments tend to minimize emotional suffering as just another part of everyday life experiences.


Intent or Recklessness

Demonstrating that the defendant acted with intentionality or recklessness is a critical component of establishing emotional distress. It’s necessary to provide evidence that the defendant either purposefully caused severe emotional distress or knew it was probable their conduct would lead to such suffering.

Establishing intent is notably difficult in cases involving the infliction of emotional distress, owing largely to its typically unseen characteristics. Intent here often depends on indirect evidence and proving this can be quite challenging. To support claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, comprehensive documentation like medical records and personal diaries becomes exceptionally important.


Severe Emotional Distress

Demonstrating the severity of emotional distress is essential and, perhaps, the most difficult aspect to prove in such claims. The plaintiff is required to endure severe emotional distress for their claim to hold merit. Determining what qualifies as “severe” can be quite subjective and largely depends on how convincingly the plaintiff presents their case before a judge or jury.

Claims involving emotional distress are often strengthened when there’s accompanying physical harm that offers tangible evidence of suffering. In Hawaii specifically, legal validity requires that an emotional distress claim must coincide with either a physical injury or medically recognized illness.

The purpose behind awarding damages for emotional distress is to provide recompense for psychological trauma resulting from an incident. This may cover symptoms such as loss of sleep, anxiety, depression, fearfulness, and enduring mental agony—all manifestations of psychological torture without direct physical manifestation.


Types of Cases Involving Emotional Distress Claims

Claims of emotional distress can emerge from numerous situations. For instance, claims for personal injury might encompass those related to emotional distress when such stress leads to a physical injury or stems from the mental trauma associated with incidents like vehicular collisions and slip-and-fall accidents. The consequential trauma from these events may cause profound emotional harm that justifies an emotional distress claim.

In the work environment, issues like retaliation and wrongful termination are potential sources of emotional distress claims as well. Defamation is another cause. It involves circulating falsehoods about someone which can inflict intentional damage to their emotions due to reputation harm.

Beyond these examples, in Hawaii, there are unique circumstances such as medical malpractice and instances of wrongful death that could also precipitate an emotional distress claim. These types of occurrences often involve witnessing disturbing events or enduring psychological traumas like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leading to intense emotion-related consequences.

Cases involving nursing home mistreatment and illegal arrest also have the propensity for triggering claims related to emotionally stressful experiences because they involve stark violations of individual rights and dignity. Emotional turmoil experienced by observers—such as relatives who witness loved ones’ suffering during traumatic episodes—can equally form grounds for claiming compensation on account of bystander-induced stress.


The above scenarios demonstrate a broad spectrum where one might seek redress through an emotional distress claim including:

  • Harassment or discrimination at workplaces
  • Negligence resulting in medical errors
  • Personal injuries arising out auto mishaps
  • Unjust dismissal or hostile treatment within professional settings
  • Domestic violence causing psychological abuse

Considering how nuanced and subjective litigation regarding these matters tends to be, enlisting seasoned attorneys like Olson & Sons could significantly affect the outcome favorably.


Recovering Damages for Emotional Distress in Hawaii

After establishing the fact that you have undergone emotional distress, your next step in the legal process is to pursue compensation. In Hawaii, you can seek two main types of damages for emotional distress: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages provide reimbursement for verifiable financial losses such as healthcare expenses and diminished earning potential stemming from your injury. Conversely, non-economic damages aim to compensate for intangible losses which include pain and suffering—a type of damage that’s inherently difficult to measure financially. To calculate these compensations, strategies like using a multiplier—which gives weight to the severity of an injury—or applying a daily rate method called per diem are often employed.

It is important to consider that due to Hawaii’s no-fault car insurance stipulations, demands for suffering damages encounter more stringent conditions. Specifically when attempting claims beyond certain statutory limits after a vehicle collision—posing extra hurdles in obtaining reparations for emotional distress harm sustained.


Limitations and Challenges in Emotional Distress Cases

Embarking on an emotional distress claim can be a complex endeavor, even with the robust backing of a seasoned legal firm such as Olson & Sons. A primary hurdle to overcome is the statute of limitations outlined by Hawaii law, which stipulates that individuals have a two-year window from when the cause of action occurs to initiate a personal injury lawsuit, including claims for emotional harm. The duration for filing may be extended due to Hawaii’s discovery rule if the injured party becomes aware or should reasonably become aware of both the negligent act and its link to their injuries at a later date.

There are limits imposed on compensatory damages related specifically to pain and suffering in Hawaii. These are capped at $375,000. This cap may not apply under certain circumstances where multiple parties bear fault or instances involving deliberate infliction of harm arise. Considering no-fault auto insurance regulations within the state often results in restrictions regarding recovery compensation for pain and suffering unless specified criteria—such as surpassing designated injury severity thresholds or exceeding $5,000 worth of damage coverage under no-fault policies—are satisfied.

Establishing proof for emotional distress presents its own set of obstacles since emotions are inherently subjective entities influenced by one’s physical health status quo along with mental stability factors plus individual life experiences backstory. Claims filed concerning personal hurt feelings might get complicated by scrutiny into any pre-existing mental health conditions potentially contributing factors to alleged distress experienced by plaintiff.

It’s noteworthy how Hawaiian laws incorporate what is known as the modified comparative negligence doctrine while determining settlement amounts. This principle mandates a reduction in awarded reparations proportionally based upon the degree-percentage of culpability attributed to the person lodging the complaint—as long as they don’t account for more than half (51%+) of the responsibility.

This percentage-wise responsibility rating threshold limit is considered legally viable grounds for a reduced payout quantum level accordingly. This is especially relevant during litigation proceedings phases, where contention points are raised.

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How Olson & Sons Can Help with Your Emotional Distress Claim

Overcoming the complexities and obstacles associated with personal injury claims, particularly those involving emotional distress, requires expertise from well-versed legal practitioners. Olson & Sons, Attorneys at Law, offer just that with their adept team of lawyers who have a wealth of experience in resolving such cases effectively to ensure clients achieve favorable results.

Olson & Sons is proficient in addressing a wide array of severe incidents resulting in both physical harm and emotional turmoil—ranging from traumatic brain injuries to debilitating spinal cord injuries. They adeptly handle negotiations with insurance entities to safeguard your rights while aggressively advocating on your behalf throughout the claim process. They diligently work towards documenting all aspects of damage you’ve incurred—including economic losses as well as mental and bodily harm—to secure equitable compensation for your emotional distress claims.


Free Consultation

Olson & Sons offers a complimentary consultation to those who may have claims regarding emotional distress, showcasing their proficiency and commitment. This no-charge assessment facilitates an expert review of your case at zero expense.

During this consultation, you will be able to:

  • Grasp the legal rights and details pertaining to your claim for emotional distress without financial obligations
  • Obtain professional judgment on the strength of your case and potential resolutions prior to deciding on pursuing litigation
  • Decide with full knowledge about proceeding with a lawsuit based on informed evaluations


In conclusion, pursuing a claim for emotional distress in Hawaii requires maneuvering through a complex legal landscape, proving specific elements such as extreme and outrageous conduct, intent or recklessness, and severe emotional distress, and overcoming various limitations and challenges. The diverse scenarios that can give rise to emotional distress claims and the subjective nature of emotional distress itself further complicate these cases.

However, this intricate journey need not be undertaken alone. With the experienced legal team at Olson & Sons, you can confidently tackle the complexities of emotional distress claims. Their dedicated team, based in Kona and Kamuela, stands ready to provide expert legal guidance and representation, ensuring your rights are protected and your claim is given the best chance of success.

Whether you’re at the stage of evaluating the viability of your claim or ready to file a lawsuit, don’t hesitate to reach out to Olson & Sons. With their free consultation, you can gain a deeper understanding of your case without any upfront costs. Reach out today to begin your journey towards justice.


FAQs About Emotional Distress in Hawaii

What is an example of suing for emotional distress?

You can sue for emotional distress when you have witnessed a loved one’s death due to someone’s negligence or when the mental stress directly causes a physical reaction, such as developing hives or tremors.

What evidence do you need for emotional distress?

To substantiate claims of emotional distress, it’s imperative to present documentation including medical records from therapy sessions or testimonials from witnesses. Evidence of physical ailments such as ulcers, headaches, and sleeplessness is crucial.

Such proof is essential to illustrate the concrete damage resulting from the psychological trauma experienced.

What is considered emotional distress?

Mental suffering, often induced by traumatic occurrences or the behavior of others, can lead to emotional distress. This condition may result in various symptoms including anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Symptoms indicating such emotional distress might consist of anxiety again but also include depression a second time. Additional indicators are insomnia and various detrimental emotional reactions that interfere with the daily enjoyment of life.

Can you sue for emotional distress in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, it is possible to pursue a lawsuit for emotional distress if evidence can be provided that the actions of the other party were either negligent or deliberate, demonstrating they behaved recklessly or with a disregard for safety.

What is the statute of limitations for emotional distress claims in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, if you believe you have a claim for emotional distress, it is crucial to be aware that the deadline for filing such claims—known as the statute of limitations—is two years from when the cause of action arises. To preserve your legal rights, make sure any legal proceedings are initiated within this period.