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New York Zone of Danger Rule

By: Michael Rose

In New York, a person may be able to recover damages for witnessing an accident involving an immediate family member. This is called the “zone-of-danger” rule, which allows a person who is threatened with bodily harm, but not actually injured, to recover for emotional distress from viewing the death or serious injury of his/her immediate family arising from the same incident.

Zone of Danger damages are recoverable in New York when you show that there was a possibility that you could have been involved in the accident along with your loved one. You must prove that you suffered a physical or emotional trauma as a consequence of having witnessed the accident.

Second, you must show that you were simultaneously aware of the death or serious injury of an immediate family member. As the Court of Appeals explained in Bovson v. Sanperi, the plaintiff’s wife, daughter, and son knew that he was involved in a car accident when it happened, although they did not see it; they were able to hear and feel the accident and the impact on the car where their father was seated.

Third, the injured person must be an immediate family member (father, son, daughter, mother, brother, or sister) in order to have a Zone of Danger claim. No other familial relationships are recognized under New York law.

Hach & Rose, LLP, recently settled a case for the wrongful death of a construction worker’s son.  In that case, the defendant recklessly and negligently allowed the victim to operate construction equipment on the premises leading to the unfortunate death of the young adolescent.

We were able to collect monetary compensation for the pain and suffering of the child, as well as for the mental anguish the accident caused the child’s father due to him being in the “zone of danger” at the time of his child’s horrific accident.  We pride ourselves on our ability to think outside the box—by using state-of-the-art research tactics, we pursue every possible claim in order to recover maximum compensation for our clients. While money can never replace the loss of a loved one, the result of our hard work and dedication provides our clients and their families with financial security for years to come.

If you believe that you have been harmed as a result of witnessing an immediate family member’s accident, don’t hesitate to call the lawyers of Hach & Rose, LLP, today at (212) 779-0057.

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