Oregon Supreme Court rules witness to injury or death of family member can bring suit

The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that a person who witnesses injury to or death of a family member caused by the negligence of another may bring suit to recover money damages for serious emotional distress caused by the event. In a case before the Oregon court, two boys, ages eight and twelve, were crossing a street in a crosswalk with their seven year-old brother. A driver negligently drove his truck through the crosswalk, striking and killing the youngest boy, in full view of the two older boys. The case was dismissed at the trial court level because of an old legal rule that recovery for emotional distress was permitted in that situation only if the person suffering emotional distress also sustained a physical injury. In reversing the trial court’s decision, the Oregon Supreme Court adopted a new and emerging legal rule that allows recovery against a person who negligently causes sudden and serious bodily injury that results in serious emotional harm to someone who perceives the event and is a close family member of the person who suffers the bodily injury.

This is an important case in recognizing the reality that a serious physical injury can be a very traumatic emotional experience for family members who witness the injuring event.

Robert P. Schuster, P.C. has investigated personal injury and wrongful death cases ---and successfully held companies accountable---for decades. We have achieved unparalleled success in North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Illinois, and elsewhere by relying on basic, fundamental principles. Caring for and believing in our clients. Thorough investigation and preparation. Creative and strategic focus. Unrelenting hard work. If you or a family member have suffered a personal injury or death, the lawyers and staff at Robert P. Schuster, P.C., will be happy to answer your questions and assist you in any way we can. Please call us at 1.307.732.7800---or email Bob Schuster directly at bob@bobschuster.com.