Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Claims in Florida

Psychological trauma can be devastating, whether it stems from being involved in a Florida car accident or witnessing a loved one suffer serious injuries themselves. Unfortunately, the legal field has been slow to come around to the idea that psychological trauma can have a lasting impact on those who suffer from it. However, with research in this area of medicine continuing to evolve, courts are beginning to accept the concept that witnessing a traumatic event can cause serious harm to an individual.Thus, in 1995, the Florida Supreme Court clearly outlined the elements of a relatively new cause of action called negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED). An NIED claim is based on the physical injuries sustained by witnessing a very traumatic event. In the 1995 case referenced above, the court set forth the following requirements for an NIED claim:

  1. The plaintiff must suffer some physical injury;
  2. Which was a result of a psychological trauma;
  3. That resulted after witnessing a negligent injury;
  4. To someone with whom the plaintiff has a close personal relationship.

A recent case discusses the physical injury requirement of a Florida NIED claim.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving husband of a woman who passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest while wearing a “lifevest” manufactured by the defendant. The lifevest was a wearable defibrillator that was designed to administer cardiac shock when necessary.

The plaintiff’s wife was initially hesitant to wear the lifevest, but representatives from the defendant company reassured her that it was 98% effective and only delivered a shock when it was necessary. The plaintiff’s wife eventually agreed to use the lifevest. However, later that day, she suffered a cardiac event, and the lifevest failed to administer the required shock. The plaintiff’s wife died as a result. The plaintiff witnessed his wife suffer cardiac arrest.

The plaintiff brought several claims against the manufacturer of the lifevest, including a claim for NIED. The plaintiff claimed that as a result of witnessing his wife go into cardiac arrest, he suffered muscle and stomach pain.

The court rejected the plaintiff’s claim, finding that he did not allege a sufficient physical injury. The court explained that generalized injuries such as “hypertension and pain and suffering” are insufficient to meet the requirements of an NIED claim. The court explained that more specific, concrete examples of a physical injury are required and that, if the plaintiff did indeed suffer more concrete physical injuries, the complaint should be amended to reflect these injuries.

Have You Suffered from the Trauma of Witnessing a Terrible Accident?

If you have recently witnessed the loss or serious injury of a loved one due to a defibrillator, and you have developed physical symptoms as a result of the trauma, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a South Florida personal injury lawsuit. The dedicated team of Florida injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience assisting victims and their family members with seeking the compensation they deserve for the serious injuries they have suffered. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Discusses Official Government Immunity in Recent Wrongful Death Case, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 19, 2017.

Additur and Remittur: A Judge’s Ability to Adjust a Jury’s Verdict in Florida, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 5, 2018.

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