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The bystander elements are flexible and should be applied on a case-by-case basis. But, when the material facts are undisputed, whether the plaintiff is entitled to recover as a bystander is a question of law.
Respondent insured’s daughter was a passenger in a car that swerved out of control and hit a tree. Insured was asleep at the time of the crash. Petitioner insurer denied respondent insured’s claim for the latter’s injuries as a bystander to her daughter’s fatal accident. Respondent insured filed suit against the petitioner insurer. Both parties moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted summary judgment for respondent. The court of appeals reversed and remanded, concluding that there was a fact issue. Each party filed a petition for review.
Under the circumstances, did the court of appeals err in allowing a bystander cause of action?
The court reversed the court of appeals' order and rendered judgment in favor of petitioner. The court found that the undisputed facts in the case showed that respondent was not at the scene when the accident occurred, and that the emotional impact that she suffered did not result from a sensory and contemporaneous observance of the accident. The court held that although the elements of a bystander cause of action were flexible, the material facts were undisputed, and thus, recovery was a question of law.