Under Washington law, a family member who is present at the scene of an accident in which a loved one was physically injured or arrives shortly thereafter may have a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED). A Washington appeals court recently reviewed a case to determine whether a plaintiff could bring an NIED claim when she knew about the accident before arriving at the scene.
The plaintiff’s husband died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident caused by an unknown driver. Her husband was riding motorcycles with some friends. A van driving erratically passed them and then suddenly hit its brakes in front of the plaintiff’s husband, causing him to crash. The van drove off, and the driver was never identified.
One of the other riders called the woman with the plaintiff and told her of the accident, saying they should come to the scene right away. They got there shortly after the ambulance, approximately 10 to 15 minutes after they received the call.