In this Emerging Issues commentary, personal injury litigator and author Margie Searcy Alford reviews the Missouri Supreme Court decision in Jarrett v. Jones, 258 S.W.3d 442 (Mo. 2009). The court held that a direct victim of an accident may recover emotional distress damages for observing the injury or death of a third party due to the accident. She writes:
"In 1990, in the case of Asaro v. Cardinal Glennon Memorial Hospital, 799 S. W. 2d. 595 (Mo. Banc 1990), a new cause of action was created in Missouri for a bystander to an incident in which he or she suffered emotional distress as a result of seeing the disturbing event. Asaro held that in order to recover, the bystander had to be in a 'zone of danger' where he could have been harmed himself or had a reasonable fear of being harmed himself.
"In Jarrett v. Jones, the defendant argued that the wreck was already over and that at the time Jarrett viewed the body of the dead child, he was not in any danger and could not have a reasonable fear that he was in danger. The Court held that actual victims to a wreck could recover for emotional distress from viewing a dead child after the crash if the two previously stated additional requirements were met.
"The Missouri Supreme court created a new cause of action for emotional distress suffered by a party who was in a wreck or other incident and who witnessed a distressful sight even though the plaintiff was not in danger or reasonable fear of danger for himself at the time he witnessed the distressful sight."
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