Josh Hill


Recovery for the negligent infliction of emotional distress has always been a hazy and constantly changing area of the law. Recovery for this tort has generally been premised upon shifting policy concerns. Historically, courts agreed with public policy declaring emotional distress too difficult to prove and too easy to fake and only allowed emotional distress that occurred in connection with a physical injury. This rule flourished and grew into acceptance across America. As the tort developed and scientific advances in authenticating the symptoms of emotional distress became more mainstream, the policy consideration shifted towards allowing recovery for emotional distress based on the idea that, when the negligence of another causes injuries, lhysical or otherwise, no one should be prevented from recovering damages. Over the years, courts have developed multiple tests to determine when recovery should be allowed for plaintiffs suffering from emotional distress. Mainly, recovery has been categorized into two distinct classifications: directvictim recovery and bystander recovery. While the law regarding the standard of recovery for direct victims and bystanders has been settled in Missouri for some time, Jarrett v. Jones provides some guidance on how the Supreme Court of Missouri discerns the practical differences between a direct victim and a bystander. While the practical differences are meant to allow Missouri courts to apply the proper standard and, ultimately, determine recovery, it is not entirely clear that the distinctions will matter.

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