Monday, September 1, 2008

No Coverage for Bystander's Emotional Distress, Rules Connecticut Supreme Court

A defendant's auto insurance policy doesn't cover a bystander's emotional distress claim, the Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled. The plaintiff's son was struck by a car driven by the defendant. The plaintiff claimed that she suffered emotional distress as a result of witnessing the bodily injuries to her son.

The defendant's policy provided bodily injury coverage with liability limits of $100,000 for "each person" and $300,000 for each accident.

The claims on behalf of the son were settled for $100,000, the maximum limit per person. The plaintiff sought an additional $100,000, claiming that the emotional distress she suffered constituted a separate and distinct "bodily injury" under the terms of the policy.

But the court disagreed.

"[T]he plaintiff's claim for bystander emotional distress does not constitute a bodily injury within the meaning of the policy. ... [T]here was no 'physical or corporeal' injury."

Furthermore, the court noted, the majority of jurisdictions has found that the term "bodily injury" in a liability policy does not include emotional distress unaccompanied by physical harm.

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