Words Can Hurt You, And You Might Be Able To Sue
If you've been the target of verbal abuse or threatening verbal behavior, you might have grounds to sue for a form of personal injury. Despite these just being words, they can create a problem for their target in the form of worry, fear, and even physical symptoms from stress. You don't have to simply deal with behavior like this as part of your daily routine. Here's a glance at what suing would take and one way you may be able to stop the behavior quickly.
Your State Laws Play a Role
There's no one overarching federal law that states that bullying, verbal abuse, or any similar forms of non-physical behavior are valid causes for personal injury lawsuits. Federal discrimination laws could potentially be used if the discrimination involved verbal abuse, but that, of course, is case by case. However, each state has its own laws that determine whether verbal abuse could be considered assault and thus grounds for a court case.
For example, Massachusetts' General Laws (Chapter 265, Section 37) state that no one can "attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with, or oppress or threaten any other person" who is simply behaving as allowed by society and laws. This could be used in a court as evidence against someone who has been verbally harassing you.
There are times when a court would be less inclined to view the harassment as grounds for a personal injury case; for example, if someone yelled abusive language at you, and you yelled abusive language (in other words, language that was offensive and not used as a defense) at them in response and then kept yelling at them instead of leaving. You also likely wouldn't win a case for personal injury because someone said something that would be considered minor, such as not liking the style of clothing you were wearing.
You may have to show that the abuse led to visible consequences in your life, such as quitting your job, having documented health problems from stress, and so on. Documentation is key; even if you aren't to the point of seeking medical attention yet, start documenting in writing all of the incidents you encounter. Depending on your state's laws, recording may be an option as well.
Restraining Orders May Help
While you're trying to put your abuse case together, look into getting a restraining order against that person. Those orders, which generally don't require full jury trials but still require court time, state that the person harassing you has to fulfill a certain set of conditions such as not going near you, not speaking to you, and so on. Exact conditions sometimes vary, such as the distance the person is supposed to keep from you. Violating the order means arrest for the person. These can be a fast way to stop a lot of harassment.
If you'd like to discuss your options regarding stopping verbal abuse or threats, talk to a personal injury lawyer in addition to the police. The lawyer can let you know what you need to start preparing or documenting in order to have a case that's likely to win. Click here for more info about personal injury law.