Psychological injuries


The Story
Mrs. Steiner concentrated on the road in front of her. It was her 40th anniversary and she and her husband were being taken out by their grandchildren. “Darling, would you turn up your window. It’s getting a bit…,” Mrs Steiner started to say.
But before she had a chance to finish, the car suddenly bounced from a loud thump in the back.
Her heart pounding, Mrs. Steiner immediately put on her brakes and looked through the rear window.
A scream of terror escaped from her lips. “Myron, Myron! There’s a motorcycle… and a body… Oh my god! There’s blood all over.”
Mrs. Steiner, suffering from the shock of the accident, was shaking like a leaf. The ambulance that arrived took her to the emergency room.
Physically, Mrs. Steiner had just suffered minor injuries. Psychologically, however, she was a wreck.
Between her nightmares and loss of appetite, Mrs. Steiner’s personality had completely changed. “Myron, you’re driving me crazy. Stop talking to me,” she now said increasingly more often. Mr. Steiner couldn’t recognize his wife, who had, before the accident, been so sweet and loving.
“Myron, I can’t sleep,” she complained at night. “And it’s all your fault. I keep seeing the young man lying beside the car… And now he’s dead! I want to die too!”
Myron tried moving out into the guest room, but it was no help; their marriage was cracking under the tension. Finally, Myron took his wife to a therapist. Anti-depressants and therapy began to work, and slowly, Mrs. Steiner began to come back to her old self.
But the pain still remained.
“Someone has to pay for my wife’s terrible mental suffering,” Mr Steiner said as he sued the estate of the dead motorcyclist.
In the Courtroom
“You can’t believe what I saw,” cried Mrs. Steiner. “I saw the rider land beside my window. It was horrible! I suffered for months afterwards. Since the accident was not my fault, I should receive compensation for my physical injuries, but in addition, for my psychological problems. Other courts have done the same.”
“This is ludicrous, your honour” argued the motorcyclist’s estate. “There is no evidence of exactly what Mrs. Steiner saw the night of the accident. I’m sorry that she lived through a tragic event, but there is must be a limit to what we’re liable for!”
Is the motorcyclist’s estate liable for Mrs. Steiner’s psychological damage? You! Be The Judge. Then look below for the court’s decision.
The Decision
“Mrs. Steiner will be compensated,” decided the judge. “Both sides admit that the motorcyclist was at fault in this accident. It is reasonably foreseeable that motorcyclists involved in accidents will be thrown to the ground where there injuries will be seen by others. I find that there is a sufficient link to hold the motorcyclist’s estate liable for both Mrs. Steiner’s psychological injuries.”
Today’s column is based on a case from British Columbia. If you have a similar problem, please contact (sponsor) or another lawyer in your state. We are proud to bring you some of the current legal issues from across the country for discussion and debate. To provide compelling entertainment, we have fictionalized the names, the characters and the scenarios in the case. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. In the interest of clarity and brevity, the legal issues in the case have been greatly reduced and simplified. Elissa Bernstein is a lawyer and nationally syndicated columnist. Copyright 2017 Haika Enterprises. B31-9