Historic Immunities: Governmental, Charitable, Intrafamilial

The main function of the tort law is to safeguard individuals from injuries caused by others’ wrongful actions. Consequently, there are rules relating to emotional distress, bystander claims, and loss of consortium that define the limit for related liabilities. In emotional distress torts, the law considers the psychological and mental afflictions resulting from injuries and not only physical damages. For instance, a person who spreads fake news about the death of another party’s family member inflicts emotional distress and is liable for his actions. However, the accused’s actions have to be careless and intentional or regarded to have the potential of causing psychological torture.

The other significant component of this tort rule is the negligent infliction of emotional distress that demands that jurisdictions provide for emotional injury recovery on affected plaintiffs as directed by the negligence theory. This implies that an individual can claim damages even when the accused never demonstrated recklessness or intent of harm in her actions that led to emotional pain. However, the court still has to determine whether the defendant’s actions violated a standard or duty of care, resulting in psychological injury. The Dillon v. Legg case is a typical example of the limitations of the scope of liability applied in incidences of emotional distress (Dillon V. Legg). The plaintiffs witnessed the death of their brother and son after the defendant knocked and killed the boy with his car.

Cheryl and her mother sued the driver for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Consequently, the court ruled that Cheryl be compensated for the psychological torture triggered by the fear of also being hit by the vehicle since she was within the zone of danger. Additionally, the jury dismissed her mother’s claims because she was not within the same proximity, and therefore the driver’s actions never led to her emotional distress. The ruling on Cheryl’s mother was later reversed, and the court ruled in her favor and granted her compensation for the mental pain caused. The verdict was based on the fact that the zone of danger is not only limited to victims within the proximity of physical danger. Similarly, if an individual was in the same zone of danger as in the case of Cheryl but escaped unscathed while other people were injured or died, one can make bystander claims to compensate for the emotional distress caused. However, successfully obtaining the claim is always a challenge in a court of law because the extent of psychological torture cannot be measured without physical proof.

Additionally, there are special injury cases where courts allow the family members of the plaintiff to claim “loss of consortium” damages that resulted from the accused’s negligence. The loss of consortium component is an independent assertion presented by either the spouse or relatives of the individual injured or killed by a defendant’s negligence. However, it is important to note that this claim is never awarded unless the victim suffers a permanent health condition or dies from the injury.

The law provides for three distinct subcategories of immunity to safeguard a defendant from irrelevant or extravagant tort liabilities. Intrafamilial immunity prevents people of the same family from suing one another based on personal injury. Spouses are usually classified as a single legal party and therefore cannot report each other. Governmental immunity protects federal agencies, institutions, and states from being sued by employees and members of the public. The policy is instrumental in governance because it prevents interference from lawsuits. Finally, charitable immunity shields humanitarian organizations from liabilities in the course of their operations. However, the law excludes volunteers and employees working for the institutions.

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