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Cyber-Bullying and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

computerThe law often takes some time catching up to technology. Cyber-bullying has existed since people could communicate through the Internet, but now many states have laws protecting against this type of behavior. If you or someone close to you has been a victim of cyber-bullying, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the person and seek damages. These cases are extremely complex, and having an attorney analyze the facts of your case may be your best shot at recovering damages.

Cyber-bullying is defined as the use of electronic communication (i.e., email, text, or social media) to bully a person, typically by sending messages that are of an intimidating or threatening nature. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2014, about 73 percent of adults have witnessed online bullying and harassment, and 40 percent have been the victim of such behavior. The most common forms of cyber-bullying are being called offensive names and purposeful embarrassment.

A victim of cyber-bullying may be able to seek monetary damages from the at-fault party through a civil claim. One example of such a claim is intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED).

Intentional infliction of emotional distress takes place when someone intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional trauma or distress to another person. The conduct cannot be merely annoying or insulting. Instead, it must be “extreme and outrageous.” To support an IIED claim in Florida, a plaintiff must establish the following elements:  i) the defendant’s conduct was “extreme and outrageous”; ii) the defendant’s conduct was intentional; and iii) the defendant’s conduct caused severe emotional distress to another person. It is important to note that the standard for IIED is extremely high and can be quite cumbersome to prove in court.

For example, if Doug sends Donna an email saying her mother is dead, Donna is likely to suffer severe emotional distress. This type of communication would be considered cyber-bullying because it involved an electronic communication. If Donna can establish that Doug intended to cause distress or was reckless, which means Doug should have known such an email would cause distress but sent it anyway, Donna could likely sue for IIED.

An IIED victim will be able to seek compensatory damages, such as the cost of any medical help that was needed to remedy the emotional distress (i.e., psychological treatment). An IIED victim may be able to pursue punitive damages in very rare cases.

Cyber-bullying and other online ways to harass another person are newer legal issues that are more and more pressing due to the pervasive use of technology in our society. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our Miami injury attorneys can fight diligently for the rights of cyber-bullying victims. Cyber-bullying is not a joke. It can lead to long-term emotional scars and has even caused teenagers to commit suicide. Don’t waste any time consulting a reliable attorney about your rights and options. To learn more, feel free to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online today.

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