The law of the State of New York looks skeptically at those who try to recover damages for emotional injuries (for example, being close to an accident that so shocks the plaintiff as to cause emotional harm). Thus, before the courts will allow such claims to go forward, the plaintiff must establish some physical contact with the incident, or that the plaintiff was in the zone of danger where the incident occurred, and was in reasonable fear of personal harm.
In this case, the assailant (the victim’s father-in-law) following a family quarrel, knifed his daughter-in-law, killing her in the presence of her three young children (his grandchildren). Representing the young children who witnessed the attack upon their mother, our lawsuit claimed severe emotional damages, relying upon the zone of danger that the children were in (the assault occured in the kitchen while the children were seated at the table).
We also brought an action on behalf of the victim’s estate for wrongful death. The jury’s verdict represented one of the highest awards in New York State based upon a zone of danger theory.