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Can You Sue Someone Over A Scary Prank?

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Everybody loves a good joke, right? That might be true, as long as the joke is actually funny for everyone involved -- but a prank that targets and terrifies an unknowing victim can become no laughing matter. What can you do if you're the target of a prank that upset you so badly that you still can't laugh it off? 

Suing For The Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress Over A Prank

Generally speaking, people are expected to cope with ordinary rude or offensive behavior. However, when someone purposefully goes out of their way to cause you severe anxiety or mental distress, you may be able to sue them for a personal injury known as the intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED).

Pranks and practical jokes can certainly be comic, but they can also be cruel. Take, for example, the recent prank pulled on celebrity Paris Hilton. A television crew set her up to believe that the plane she was on was going to crash into the ocean in order to film her reaction. They even went so far as to convince the pilot to make the plane seem like it was diving.

Winning An Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress Lawsuit

In order to win a lawsuit based on IIED, all of the following things have to be true:

1.) The person you are suing must have acted intentionally or recklessly. Intentional behavior means that the other person purposefully caused you great distress. Reckless behavior basically means that he or she knew you might end up extremely distressed, but they didn't care.

2.) His or her behavior must have been extreme or outrageous. This means that it goes beyond ordinary bad behavior, like calling you names or insulting you.

3.) You must actually suffer the emotional distress. You can't sue someone for what might have happened, only for what actually does happen. In other words, you can't sue someone because they scared you so badly that you "could have" had a heart attack or if you saw through the joke.

For example, convincing someone that they are about to die in a plane crash just to see how they would react and get it on film could easily be considered extreme and outrageous. It's also clear that the film crew hoped that the celebrity would be terrified. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been recording her reaction. The celebrity is now reported to be afraid about flying anywhere, which certainly indicates that her emotional distress is quite real.

If you've been the victim of someone's prank and it has left you emotionally shaken, contact a personal injury attorney about the possibility of a lawsuit. You don't have to allow yourself to be victimized.

For more information, contact Greg S. Memovich or a similar legal professional.