411: Bullying: Wrong – and Sometimes Illegal!
“Idiot.” “Loser.” “Dork.” “Fatso.” These are just some of the demeaning, hurtful and often unwarranted insults hurled by aggressors, bullies, etc., at their victims. In recent years, public awareness of bullying here in the U.S. has culminated in public outrage and communal action against the epidemic of bullying. The U.S. government has even dedicated an entire website to informing the public about bullying and ways to stop it – the website can be located here: http://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html. From the playground to the World Wide Web, children and teens (and sometimes even adults) of all ages assume the role of bully, for whatever reason, and put down their peers, subordinates, etc.
Any and all legitimate forms of help for individuals suffering from bullying (adolescent or adult) should be sought and sanctioned. However, especially when the bullying is present in adulthood (what we sometimes call “intentional infliction of emotional distress”), seeking the help of a counselor, therapist or loved one, might not be enough; sometimes it makes sense to even involve an attorney.
In cases of “bullying” extreme and outrageous to a point such that they cause serious emotional damage to the victim, the wrongdoer can actually be held liable for the damage incurred by their victim. If someone calls you “stupid” and it bothers you, there’s little you can do to seek compensation from him or her. Say, though, that an individual has tormented you deliberately for years to a point that you are scared to leave your house. In such an instance, their bullying will have made such a dent in your life that you might very well have a legal case to bring against them.
Just as with taking someone to court for negligently causing an automobile accident in which you were physically injured, taking someone to court on the grounds of intentional infliction of emotional distress requires that certain bases be covered. In order for intentional infliction of emotional distress to be legally demonstrated, you and your attorney must prove:
- that the defendant acted negligently and/or in a reckless manner,
- that the actions by the defendant were extreme,
- that they were the cause of the emotional distress experienced by the victim, and
- that the defendant has, as a result of the infliction of emotional distress, caused to victim to be damaged
To be sure, life is not always fair and sometimes people are just jerks and, despite the fact that they are acting unreasonably and/or in a cruel manner, they might not actually be doing anything for which they can be taken to court. Still, there is a strong legal basis for taking legal action against someone who has caused you (or a loved one) such emotional damage that it has interrupted or negatively impacted your (or their) life in a serious manner.
Speaking with a personal injury attorney, like one at the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg, can help you determine whether or not you’ve been a victim of bullying to a point such that you have a legitimate legal claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress to make against someone. Call us or email us for a free consultation at 561-266-9191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.