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Bystander Claim

Bystander Claim

Definition

A type of liability claim in which an accident bystander suffers some form of mental anguish due to witnessing this event. Whether a witness's emotional distress and trauma falls under the definition of "bodily injury" may arise in a court case. Some auto accidents involve situations in which one person suffers severe bodily injury, and another occupant may walk away with minor scratches. In that case, the uninjured occupants may make a claim for emotional distress or trauma from witnessing the injuries to the other passengers. Another example would be a mother who witnesses her small child being mauled by a neighborhood dog. Some courts recognize these types of claims if (a) the witness was located at or near the scene of the accident, (b) the mental anguish resulted from a direct emotional impact upon the witness from the sensory observance of the event, and (c) the witness and the victim were closely related (e.g., mother and child), as contrasted with a more distant relationship.

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