Negligent infliction of emotional distress refers to the act of inflicting emotional distress on another by one’s negligent act. Every person is having a duty to use reasonable care which avoids causing emotional distress to another person. Under law of torts, any breach of such duty will entertain monetary damages to the injured individual. Negligent infliction of emotional distress is also known as parasitic damages.
The tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress is a controversial legal theory and is not accepted in many United States jurisdictions. It is generally disfavored by most states because it appears to have no definable parameters and the potential claims that can be made under the theory are wide open. However some states like Hawaii and California has accepted it.
In Rodrigues v. State, 52 Haw. 156 (Haw. 1970), Supreme Court of Hawaii held that plaintiffs could recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress as a result of negligently caused flood damage to their home. This decision marks the true birth of NIED as a separate tort.