When Can I Sue for Emotional Distress in Florida?

suing_for_emotional_distressAnyone who has experienced frequent calls from a debt collector has a good understanding of the impact it can have on your stress level over time. The constant reminder of money due at various times throughout the day can weigh on you mentally and emotionally.  At what point does it become harassment or emotional distress?  While the laws historically called for emotional distress damages when in conjunction with damages for physical harm, more states are now recognizing the right to an award of monetary damages for emotional distress without physical injury or contact. An emotional damages judgment is now easier to obtain by virtue of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)  laws.

It is important to know that harassment by debt collectors attempting to collect consumer debts violates Florida state and federal law.

Some common examples of violations debt collectors make are:

  • Harassing phone calls –repeated daily phone calls to debtors (including contacting family members), numerous calls without leaving messages, contacting debtors late at night, argumentative or rude behavior and providing misleading or false information related to the alleged debt are examples of harassment by debt collectors.
  • Calls at work – contacting a debtor at their place of employment is a direct violation of the law. Debt collectors should never contact a coworker or leave messages regarding the debt they are attempting to collect on a work line.
  • Making threats – debt collectors are prohibited from making claims about legal courses of action that could be taken against you and using them as threats without the legal ability to carry out such threats.
  • Attempting to collect illegitimate debt – it is against the law to attempt to collect debt if that debt does not exist or if it has expired under the statute of limitations.
  • Ignoring attorney involvement – contacting the debtor once they are represented by an attorney and have been given notice of this representation violates the law. All communications must go directly through the attorney at that point.Unlike physical harm, it is challenging to measure the impact of emotional harm, making it one of the most difficult injuries to prove. Common methods to prove a claim for emotional distress include the intensity of the mental anguish, the duration, related bodily harm (headaches, ulcers, etc.), and evaluations provided by doctors (click this link now to book an appointment with them) or psychologists demonstrating the harm you’ve experienced. Most courts will only award non-physical damages if there is evidence showing that there was harm that could be objectively determined. Therefore, medical reports and personal testimony regarding physical symptoms are extremely helpful in quantifying emotional distress.If a debt collector or creditor has engaged in any of the above violations of the FDCPA, you may be entitled to damages up to $1,000.00. You may also be entitled to damages for emotional distress and punitive damages. An experienced lawyer can help determine the appropriate course of action for you. Contact attorney TJ Grimaldi today to discuss your emotional distress claim.