Bystander Claims in Texas Personal Injury Law


In Texas, personal injury law allows certain individuals to seek compensation not only for their own injuries but also for the emotional distress experienced as a bystander. These bystander claims can be complex, requiring a deep understanding of the legal framework and precedents in Texas law. This guide provides an in-depth look into bystander claims, including examples of cases and authoritative references.

What is a Bystander Claim?

A bystander claim is a legal action that allows individuals who witness a traumatic event to seek compensation for the emotional distress caused by observing the injury or death of a loved one. These claims are particularly relevant in cases of severe accidents or acts of negligence where the emotional impact extends beyond the immediate victim.

Under Texas law, to succeed in a bystander claim, the plaintiff must establish the following elements:

  1. Proximity to the Accident: The bystander must have been physically close to the scene of the accident.
  2. Direct Sensory Perception: The bystander must have directly witnessed the event, either by seeing, hearing, or otherwise perceiving it.
  3. Close Relationship: The bystander must have a close familial relationship with the victim, such as being a parent, child, or spouse.
  4. Severe Emotional Distress: The emotional distress suffered must be severe and debilitating, going beyond the typical distress that an average person might experience.

Examples of Bystander Claim Cases in Texas

Case 1: Freeman v. City of Pasadena

In this case, the plaintiff witnessed his son being struck by a vehicle. The court held that the father, who was in close proximity and directly perceived the incident, could claim for the emotional distress experienced. This case set a precedent in understanding the boundaries of proximity and direct sensory perception in bystander claims.

Read more about Freeman v. City of Pasadena

Case 2: Boyles v. Kerr

This case involved a mother who witnessed her child being severely injured due to a negligent act. The Texas Supreme Court recognized the mother’s right to claim for the emotional distress caused by witnessing her child’s suffering, emphasizing the need for a close familial relationship and severe emotional impact.

Read more about Boyles v. Kerr

Pursuing a Bystander Claim

If you believe you have grounds for a bystander claim, it is crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney. At Ryan Orsatti Law, we specialize in plaintiff personal injury cases and can guide you through the complexities of bystander claims, ensuring that your rights are protected, and you receive the compensation you deserve.

Why Choose Ryan Orsatti Law?

Ryan Orsatti Law has a proven track record in handling personal injury cases in Texas, including bystander claims. Our expertise and dedication to our clients ensure that we provide the best possible representation. Contact us today for a consultation.