Have you witnessed an injury to a close family member caused by someone else’s negligence? Did you subsequently suffer emotional distress after seeing a love one harmed? If so, you may be able to bring a claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress. Under the bystander recovery theory for claims of Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, a plaintiff can bring a cause of action for damages suffered after witnessing a close family member injured as a result of another person’s negligence.
Negligent Infliction Of Emotional Distress Claim Requirements:
To succeed in a claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, the plaintiff’s emotional distress must have physical manifestations or physical consequences to meet the threshold for recovery. A physical manifestation or physical consequence are things like shaking hands, sleeplessness, increased anxiety, headaches, nausea, nightmares, dizziness, loss of appetite, crying spells, etc.
Under the bystander recovery theory, the claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress is not derivative of the underlying negligence claim the close family member/victim may also have against the defendant. Auto Club Ins Ass’n v Hardiman, 228 Mich App 470, 579 NW2d 115 (1998). Although a claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress is commonly brought in conjunction with a general negligence claim, it is a separate and independent cause of action. A claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress does not require that the person injured make an actual recovery. Barnes v Double Seal Glass Co, Plant 1, 129 Mich App 66, 75–76, 341 NW2d 812 (1983); Campos v Oldsmobile Div, GMC, 71 Mich App 23, 25, 246 NW2d 352 (1976).
The claim is limited, however, to those close and/or immediate family members physically present at the time and scene of the accident, or those who suffer shock fairly contemporaneously with the incident.
Statute Of Limitations For Negligent Infliction Of Emotional Distress Claims
The statute of limitations (the time permitted by law to bring a formal claim for damages) is THREE YEARS from the date of the incident or it is barred. MCL 600.5805(10). If the party bringing a claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress is a minor, he or she would be entitled to bring a bystander recovery claim within one year after turning 18-years-old, or until his or her 19th birthday. MCL 600.5851(1).
Damages Available To Those Who Suffer Injures Caused By Negligent Infliction Of Emotional Distress
The damages available under a claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress include recovery for the physical and emotional manifestations of the distress that the plaintiff suffered and the cost of treatment for such injuries. The plaintiff would also be entitled to recover any other damages available in a tort/negligence action, such as, shame, mortification, mental pain, anxiety, suspense, fright, and embarrassment, in addition to pecuniary expenses, such as medical expenses, counseling bills, or work loss.
In order to properly prove a claim for a bystander recovery Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress claim, it would require objective medical evidence that the emotional distress caused a physical manifestation or physical consequences. Thus, you should not delay seeking the appropriate treatment.