Torts I

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Negligent infliction of emotional distress has two elements:

  1. Impact or Physical Manifestation
    Impact Rule

    The impact rule requires some immediate physical injury/impact before the plaintiff can recover. The defendant had a duty to those who would be physically impacted by his action.

    The impact rule is the minority rule.

    Physical Manifestation

    The physical manifestation or physical injury requirement requires the plaintiff to suffer a physical symptom as a result of the distress.

    A definite nervous disorder is a physical injury.

    The physical manifestation requirement is the majority rule.

    The physical manifestation requirement has two well-recognized exceptions:

    1. Death-telegram rule, in a minority of states
    2. Negligent interference with dead bodies
  2. Bystander

    A bystander is someone who is:

    1. is closely related to the injury victim;
    2. is present at the scene of the injury-producing event at the time it occurs and is then aware that it is causing injury to the victim; and
    3. as a result suffers serious emotional distress—a reaction beyond that which would be anticipated in a disinterested witness and which is not an abnormal response to the circumstances.