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Should there be causes of action for less tangible harms like emotional distress or...

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jenniem | eNoter

Posted June 3, 2013 at 1:46 AM via web

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Should there be causes of action for less tangible harms like emotional distress or loss of consortium?  Why or why not?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 3, 2013 at 2:01 AM (Answer #1)

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This is, of course, a matter of opinion.  There is no objectively correct answer.  My own view is that there should be some ability to sue when someone else’s negligent action leads to something like emotional distress or loss of consortium.

The reason for this is that these sorts of less tangible harms are nonetheless very real.  Tort law is meant to compensate people when they are harmed by the actions of others.  There is no reason to think that only tangible harms are meant to be compensated for.

Let us think of it in the following way.  When someone robs or burglarizes us, we do not let them off if they simply give back the things that they stole.  We believe that the harm that they have done to us and to society is real even though they have made good the tangible harm.  The same should be true of torts.  If someone acts negligently and causes the death of someone I love, society should realize that the harm that has been done to me is as much emotional as it is economic. 

Because human emotions are real things and are very important to our lives, damages to our emotions should be compensated just as tangible damages are.

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