Can you sue for Witnessing a Bad Accident in Wisconsin?
Bystander with no family relationship to the injured victimIn cases where a defendants' negligence inflicts emotional distress on a bystander who witnesses a victim (unrelated by a family connection to the witness) injured in an accident, public policy prevents the recovery of purely psychological injuries sustained by the witness. See Bowen v. Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co., 183 Wis.2d 627, 656, 517 N.W.2d 432, 444 (1994) (person without specified family relationship barred by public policy from recovering for damages in witnessing other's suffering); see also, Sawyer v. Midelfort, 579 N.W.2d 268, 217 Wis.2d 795, (Ct.App. 1998) (holding the same).
Bystander with family relationship to injured victimThe Bowen case cited above also states that: "a tortfeasor may be held liable for negligent infliction of emotional distress on a bystander who is the spouse, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the victim. We agree that emotional trauma may accompany the injury or death of less intimately connected persons such as friends, acquaintances, or passersby. Nevertheless, the suffering that flows from beholding the agony or death of a spouse, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild or sibling is unique in human experience and such harm to a plaintiff's emotional tranquility is so serious and compelling as to warrant compensation." 517 N.W.2d 432, 183 Wis.2d 627.