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Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Lawsuits in California

 Posted on July 27, 2023 in Personal Injury

San Jose, CA personal injury lawyerEmotional distress is one of the common damages that personal injury victims will receive. However, you usually cannot file a lawsuit solely for emotional distress. In fact, most emotional distress cases are part of a larger physical injury someone suffers. But there are rare cases when someone may be able to file a lawsuit solely for emotional distress and if you contact Fuller Law Firm, we can tell you more about your case. 

Direct Impact Rule

The usual rule in California personal injury cases is that a victim needs to have suffered some direct physical damage to file an emotional distress claim. This is called the “direct victim” rule. However, there are times when a victim is uninjured physically, but they have suffered emotional distress because of the impact of a particular incident. For example, in a real case, a woman whose child was severely injured during a c-section delivery successfully sued her doctor for negligently inflicted emotional distress, despite the fact that she herself was not harmed. 

The Bystander Rule for Emotional Distress Lawsuits

There is a very limited exception that allows some people to file an emotional distress lawsuit based solely on something they witnessed. In order to file a bystander lawsuit, the following would need to apply to you:

  • You were closely related to the accident victim

  • The accident victim suffered a severe injury

  • You were in the “zone of danger” when the accident happened

  • You suffered emotional distress that would have been reasonably anticipated 

For example, if you saw your child being mauled by a dog, and you suffered severe emotional distress, you may be able to file a lawsuit. You would need to prove that the defendant was negligent in the conduct that caused the incident.

Damages in an Emotional Distress Lawsuit

If your lawsuit is successful, you may be able to receive the standard damages that you would have been awarded in any personal injury case. For example, you may need medical care to treat your emotional distress. You may have missed time from work because you were dealing with the severe effects of what you witnessed. In this case, you would be compensated based on how you have suffered.

Contact a San Jose Personal Injury Lawyer Today

The Santa Clara personal injury attorney Cory Fuller, of Fuller Law Firm, can fight for you to receive full compensation for your injuries. You can call us today at 408-234-7563 to schedule your free initial consultation. We work for you on a contingency basis, so you owe us nothing unless you win.



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