As you probably know, in most jurisdictions a plaintiff has a cause of action for emotional distress based on having witnessed someone else suffer an injury even if the plaintiff is outside the zone of danger (within which the plaintiff would be in danger of physical injury) if certain conditions are met.
New York, however, is not one of those jurisdictions. Instead, New York still follows the minority approach. Thus, in NY, plaintiffs seeking to recover for emotional distress from witnessing someone else’s accident must show that they (the plaintiffs) were within the zone of danger and in danger of physical injury at the time of the accident and that the person who suffered the injury must have been an “immediate family member.”
I am writing about this today because about two weeks ago, the New York Court of Appeals (the highest court in the state) expanded the category of people who can recover by recognizing that grandparents are “immediate family members.”
It should be clear that the opinion did NOT extend the reach of possible liability to people outside the zone of danger, but it did expand the category of people who can recover if they are within the zone of danger.