New Jersey courts have recognized a claim of negligent inflection of emotional distress (“NIED”) for people who witness an injury to a family member, caused by the negligence of a third party. The elements to establish a NIED claim are:
- The death or serious physical injury of another caused by defendant's negligence;
- A marital or intimate, familial relationship between plaintiff and the injured person;
- Observation of the death or injury at the scene of the accident; and
- Resulting severe emotional distress.
In a recent unpublished Appellate Division decision, Moreland v. Parks, a mother and her same-sex partner brought action against a third party after the mother's child was hit and killed while walking in an intersection. They sought to recover, in part, based upon a bystander NIED claim. One of the issues in the case concerned whether the same-sex partner, who was not the child's mother, could recover under a NIED claim.
A question presented to the Court was whether or not a same-sex partner had “a marital or intimate, familiar relationship” with the injured person. While the Court recognized that whether a cohabiting same-sex partner could potentially constitute a “familial relationship,” the Court nonetheless indicated that this is a fact sensitive analysis to be determined on a case-by-case basis. The Court concluded that there was essentially a fact issue as to whether a same-sex partner could establish an “intimate family relationship” which is ‘stable, enduring, substantial, and mutually supportive,” i.e. “one that is cemented by strong emotional bonds and provides a deep and pervasive emotional security.”
Should you or a loved one find yourself in this position, please speak to an attorney at Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis, & Cohen. We can competently answer any personal injury question you may have and work to insure your interests are protected.