Q: My teenage son was in a wreck where one friend died. Should he get a lawyer?
He was,the only one wearing his seat belt and performed CPR on the one boy. He returned to school to keep his mind off of the accident and his friend, however, this was very traumatic and he was in shock for a month. Would he be eligible for any type of compensation? He was not driving and speed was the determining factor in the accident. There was no alcohol or drugs involved
If he suffered a physical injury, he would have a claim for compensation.
Absent an injury, there is probably not a legally cognizable claim.
First, he should take care of himself. There's a new form of PTS treatment called EMDR he would find useful--google : Psychology Today, EMDR therapist, _____________ ________ (your city state or nearest large town).
Second he may well have a claim depending on the circumstances. Most states limit "bystander distress" to relatives, but why not contact a member of the Va.Trial Lawyers Assn in the county where it happened? They give free consults.
Finally, congratulations to him on having the presence of mind to administer CPR. And wear his seatbelt.
All the best.
A: I agree with Mr. Munsing's response. In order to maintain a claim for emotional distress in Virginia, your son must have suffered some physical injury as well. If he did not, the claim is likely not going to be recognized in the Commonwealth. Virginia is a bit hesitant to embrace new causes of action (even though many other states already recognize both intentional and negligent emotional distress as their own causes of action). As an interesting note, this issue was addressed in the Legislature this year (2018) in a bill introduced by Senator Creigh Deeds proposing the establishment of a cause of action for both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. See Va. Senate Bill 694. The bill did not pass this year. I recommend that you discuss the details of your case with me or any other Virginia personal injury attorney so that all of the important facts can be analyzed, just to be sure.
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