San Diego, CA asked in Car Accidents for California

Q: I saw my brother get severely injured as a passenger in the car I was driving when a drunk driver hit us. Can I sue for

emotional distress?

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6 Lawyer Answers
William John Light
William John Light
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Bystander emotional distress recoveries are generally limited to those who reside in the same house. If that is the case with you and your brother, you can pursue a claim against the drunk driver. Hopefully, he is insured with a large policy.

Jonathan S. Dennis
Jonathan S. Dennis
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You (as well as your brother) can individually sue the drunk driver for your personal injury and emotioanl damages, assuming you were injured. Whether you can recover emotional distress damages for witnessing your brother's injuries will depend on several factors including where you and he reside.

Joseph Torri agrees with this answer

Manuel Alzamora Juarez
Manuel Alzamora Juarez
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Berkeley, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Yes you can. You should include the em cause of action in your own lawsuit for physical injuries. Best of luck.

Jonathan S. Dennis
Jonathan S. Dennis
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You (as well as your brother) can individually sue the drunk driver for your individual personal injuries and emotional damages, assuming you/he were injured. Whether you can recover emotional distress damages for witnessing your brother's injuries will depend on several factors including where you and he reside.

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Mill Valley, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Because you were in the same car, and were in danger yourself of being severely injured, you can sue for your own serious emotional distress, even if you did not get physically injured. You can also sue for serious emotional distress for witnessing your brother's injuries. I have to disagree with my colleagues regarding living in the same household. The authorities to CACI 1621 (California Jury Instructions for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress) contain this: “Absent exceptional circumstances, recovery should be limited to relatives residing in the same household, or parents, siblings, children,

and grandparents of the victim.” So siblings qualify, even if not residing in the same household.

Joseph Torri agrees with this answer

Joseph Torri
Joseph Torri
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It is highly likely that you can sue for that, but a careful review of the facts is necessary. You should consult with a personal injury lawyer right away! Most offer a free initial consultation.

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