Compensation for Observing a Family Member’s InjuriesCalifornia law allows you to get compensation for observing a family member’s injuries. More often than not, we are doing many daily activities with family members. From running the most routine errands like going to the post office, the local Target or Walmart, or the grocery stores. Other times, maybe going on a day trip for a hike, to the beach, the lake, or to the city. But, what happens if one of your family members get injured by the negligent acts of another? Like for example, in a car accident or slip and fall or a dog attack. Obviously, the injured victim can be compensated. But what about you? You witnessed the disturbing event. In fact, it was so disturbing, you felt emotionally distressed by simply having to watch a family member get injured. Can you be compensated? The simple answer is that California law does allow you to seek compensation so long as you meet certain requirements. It’s called the tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress.

One of the most important requirements is that the family member must be closely related. Closely related means a husband, wife, mother, father, daughter, son, brother, or sister. It’s the immediate family requirement. Outside of these close relationships, the law does not allow it. The simple rationale is if the law went further, where does it stop? An in-law, a step-brother, an uncle, or a cousin? This would create a very large and unmanageable line of claimants.  The rule is stated in a court decision called Dillon v. Legg and later clarified in its progenies (Thing v. Chula Vista; Bird v. Saenz) It allowed a person to recover damages for serious emotional distress, but only if said person: (1) is closely related to the injured victim; (2) is present at the scene of the injury-producing event at the time when it occurs and is aware that it is causing injury to the victim; and (3) as a result, suffers serious emotional distress. The court defined serious emotional distress as a reaction beyond that which could be anticipated in a disinterested witness and which is not an abnormal response to the circumstances. So yes, you can get compensation for observing a family member’s injuries. If you were injured in an accident or witnessed a family member’s injuries, call The Law Firm of R. Sam immediately. We are here to help. The consultation is free. Remember: Nothing Recovered, Nothing Owed.