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State Supreme Court Dismisses Parents’ Claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress After Son’s Suicide

Posted in Firm News

At the end of last month, the opinion and decision in a negligent infliction of emotional distress in relation to medical malpractice claim was released by the Supreme Court in Connecticut. Like New Mexico, Connecticut allows claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress to be brought in certain very limited circumstances.

This case revolves around a tragic incident when a family called the police department because their son was expressing suicidal ideations. Their son was detained by police and taken to the emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation. The medical staff at the hospital evaluated the son and left a message with his parents to notify them that the son would be released because he was not a danger to himself. The son left the hospital and proceeded to find an electrical cord and hang himself outside his parent’s home. Unfortunately, the attempts to resuscitate him were futile, and he subsequently suffered a brain injury and was taken off life support.

The family brought a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress and a medical malpractice claim. The court held that in certain very limited situations a bystander claim may be brought in a medical malpractice action. However, they also held that the family did not suffer severe and debilitating emotional distress, which is the requirement in negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. The Supreme Court subsequently affirmed the lower court’s finding.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in New Mexico
Like Connecticut, New Mexico also allows negligent infliction of emotional distress claims to bystanders. Ramirez, a landmark decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court, clarified exactly when this cause of action can be brought. They dismissed the earlier method of analyzing these cases on a case-by-case basis and instead established four elements of this claim by bystanders.

Four Elements of Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in New Mexico
The first element in this type of claim is that the victim must have suffered physical injury or death. Secondly, the shock experienced by the bystander must be severe and an effect of the contemporaneous perception of the accident. Basically, this translates to the requirement that the bystander must have witnessed the accident and experienced the shock as the accident took place. The third element is the necessity of a familial relationship between the bystander and victim. Lastly, there needs to be a physical manifestation of the emotional distress.

Seeking Representation for a Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim
As was discussed above, these types of claims are very difficult to pursue, and it is important that the bystander contact an attorney as soon as possible to begin establishing the elements of the claim. Each element has a series of nuances and requirements, and the assistance of a dedicated attorney is indispensable. If you are successful, you may be eligible for monetary compensation related to the serious injuries you suffered witnessing the accident. Contact one of the experienced attorneys at the Fine Law Firm at (800) 640-6590 to schedule a free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Family of Man Killed by New Mexico Police Office Files Suit, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, April 1, 2015.

Skateboarder Hit and Killed in Fatal DUI Accident in New Mexico, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2015.