About 20 years ago we had a client who used to tell us over and over that had the car been six inches to the left it would have hit him. Not just hit him but killed him.
I explained that it didn’t hit him. It only hit his car.
We ended up negotiating a very good property damage settlement. We got cost of repair and a lot of money for diminished value and loss of use. But we potentially left a lot of money on the table.
How? We didn’t investigate his negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. Twenty years ago, I thought—practically—there had to be a physical injury for us to pursue a personal injury claim. But my thinking (and society’s) has changed.
In Washington we have a claim called “negligent infliction of emotional distress”. It’s a mouthful so most attorneys abbreviate it NIED.
There are two kinds of NIED claim. One is where you’re actually in the zone of danger. The other is where you see a family member get seriously hurt.
I think that the psychological injuries from these kinds of events can be just as hard to recover from as physical injuries. There are a growing number of PTSD diagnoses and greater acceptance of the condition.
You don’t have to get hit by a car to recover damages as long as it almost hits you or you see it hit a family member. And it’s even possible to recover where the family member’s injuries are self-inflicted.
In the last couple of years, we’ve negotiated five figure settlements for wives who watched their husbands wreck their motorcycles. In both cases the wives were driving trucks following their husbands. In one case the husband smashed into a truck on the side of the road. In the other the husband pulled into oncoming traffic and got hit head-on. In both of these cases the settlements were paid by the husband’s insurance policy to the wife.
In addition, you don’t have to be at the scene when the wreck happens. You can even arrive afterwards (as long as everything is basically in the same place as it was after the wreck). We had a case like this where the father heard sirens. His daughter was out walking the dog. He got worried. He walked around the neighborhood until he saw police cars and an ambulance. HIs daughter had been hit by a drunk driver. We recovered policy limits for him under his uninsured motorist policy.
If you’ve had a really scary event or witnessed a family member get hurt, give us a call. Our thinking has evolved. We’ll help you get top dollar for your emotional/psychological claim.