Elements of a solid case.
If you have been emotionally scarred by a police encounter that has gone sideways, and it has left you with depression, anxiety or social disorders because of it, you can most certainly make a case against the police department and the officer for damages. However, the burden of proof will be laid upon you so you should retain counsel that is steadfast and understands the laws surrounding compensation for damages. If there are no physical or property damages related to the claim, and it is just the emotional distress caused by threats, excessive or cruel treatment, it will be harder to prove in court.
Under Florida law, to state a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a complaint must allege four elements:
- deliberate or reckless infliction of mental suffering;
- outrageous conduct;
- the conduct caused the emotional distress; and
- the distress was severe.
Question of law.
A question of law will decide whether conduct is outrageous enough to support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The subjective response of the person targeted by the conduct is not relevant as to whether the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress occurred.
Emotional distress is caused when one has undergone physical or mental harm. If police conduct that lead to the emotional scarring can be proven to be intentional it will be easier to prove in a court of law. Legal claims that arise from emotional distress caused by a physical altercation of some sort or a physical loss are easier to measure and therefore easier to win in court. However, if the intentional infliction of emotional distress can be proven by the victim’s pre-encounter demeaner and good mental health against their post-encounter history, with the assistance of healthcare professionals and behavioral specialists, there may be a way to win damages. Damages might at least cover medical bills related to counseling of the inflicted emotional distress.
For instance, if a person points a toy gun at an elder who is in generally good health, and that action scares them into a heart attack or stroke, there could be a way to make a connection with the physical harm caused by the emotional distress of being scared from the gun. In this type of case infliction of emotional distress caused physical symptoms, just like anxiety and depression can cause physical symptoms that may cost someone their livelihood.
Contact an attorney.
If you believe you have a case for damages against a police office for causing you emotional distress, contact an attorney to see if they can assist you with a claim.