Seeing a loved one or relation suffer serious injuries or being involved in a car accident can be very devastating. As a matter of fact, this can lead to psychological trauma which, in itself, is even a worst-case scenario. Despite being known to have very adverse effects on those who suffer from it, the issue of psychological trauma has not been taken very seriously by those in the legal field.

However, it is good to see that courts are beginning to welcome the concept that an individual can experience serious harm by witnessing a traumatic event, thanks to the continuous evolvement of research particularly in this area of medicine.

It was to this effect that negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) which presented the elements of a relatively new cause of action was clearly outlined by the Florida Supreme Court in 1995. Now that it has been established that witnessing a very traumatic event physical injuries can cause physical injuries, a NIED claim can be filed.

The following requirements for a NIED claim were set based on the 1995 case:

  •  Some form of physical injury must be sustained by the plaintiff
  •  Only physical injuries caused by psychological trauma are considered
  •  These are injuries sustained as a result of witnessing a negligent injury
  •  Such a claim must involve a person who shares close relations with the plaintiff

This was the case when a Florida NIED claim was filed by a man whose wife had passed away even after making use of a “lifevest.” The defendant who manufactured the lifevest had assured the plaintiff’s wife that the wearable defibrillator was highly effective to control irregular heartbeats when necessary.

Despite being designed to administer cardiac shock, the lifevest failed to do its job when the woman suffered a cardiac arrest. As a result, she passed away. The plaintiff, who witnessed the cardiac event, got a Florida injury attorney to file several claims against the manufacturer of the lifevest.

According to the plaintiff, he suffered stomach and muscle pain due to the cardiac arrest his wife went through. However, that plaintiff’s claim for NIED was rejected by the court. According to the court, common injuries like suffering, pain, and hypertension are not sufficient to meet the requirements of the claim. To this end, the plaintiff’s physical injury was not sufficient for the claim for NIED.

However, the court recommended that if the plaintiff actually suffered more physical injuries, such should be reflected in the amended complaint. Basically, the court requires more specific, concrete examples of a physical injury to be presented.

Do well to hire a Florida injury attorney if you recently witnessed a serious injury or loss of a loved one as a result of using a defibrillator.