Can I be compensated for mental anguish for witnessing an accident?

The answer is yes but with limited criteria. These type of damages in Louisiana is called Lejuene damages, or sometimes bystander’s damages. Louisiana’s Article 2315.6 makes it possible for a person to make claim for mental anguish when witnessing an injury/accident of someone if:

  1. the person claiming the mental anguish damage is:
    • the mother or father of the injured person
    • the children or grandchildren of the injured person
    • the brother or sister of the injured person
    • the spouse of the injured person
    • the grandmother or grandfather of the injured person.
  2. the person claiming bystander’s damages must either witness the event causing the injury to their loved one or came upon the event soon thereafter.
  3. the damages must be severe, debilitating and foreseeable.

Therefore, in order to make a claim for mental anguish as a bystander of an accident you must be an immediate family member of the injured person, you must either witness the accident or arrive onto the scene shortly thereafter and the mental anguish must be so severe that it is debilitating. A friend or a distant relative like an uncle or cousin cannot make a Lejuene claim. Also, if an immediate family member comes upon the scene but it is not immediately thereafter, for example 24 hours later, they cannot make a claim for Lejuene damages.

Lejuene damages gets its name from the Louisiana Supreme Court case Lejuene v. Rayne Branch Hospital 556 So. 2d 559 (1990). In that case, Rayo Lejuene was under the permanent care of Rayne Branch Hospital. The staff at Rayne Branch Hospital had neglected Mr. Lejuene to such a degree that his face was being chewed on by rats. His wife, Ms. Mable Lejuene, during a visit opened the hospital door to witness the rats on Mr. Lejuene. The event caused Mable Lejuene to suffer debilitating and serious mental anguish to the point that she sued Rayne Branch Hospital for her damages of mental and emotional distress. Prior to this case, bystanders weren’t allowed to seek recovery for damages unless they were involved in the subject accident/event. The Louisiana Supreme Court held that Mable Lejuene could be compensated for the distress of witnessing an injury to a loved one. That case led the Louisiana Legislature to enact La. Art. 2315.6 setting out the criteria for what is now known as Lejuene damages.

If you witnessed a loved one in an accident or saw them injured immediately after an accident, don’t hesitate to call the lawyers at Cashio Injury Attorneys who will get you the compensation you deserve for your mental anguish and emotional distress claim. Call us at 225-402-5466.


Article 2315.6

Liability for damages caused by injury to another

  1. The following persons who view an event causing injury to another person, or who come upon the scene of the event soon thereafter, may recover damages for mental anguish or emotional distress that they suffer as a result of the other person’s injury:
    • (1) The spouse, child or children, and grandchild or grandchildren of the injured person, or either the spouse, the child or children, or the grandchild or grandchildren of the injured person.
    • (2) The father and mother of the injured person, or either of them.
    • (3) The brothers and sisters of the injured person or any of them.
    • (4) The grandfather and grandmother of the injured person, or either of them.
  2. To recover for mental anguish or emotional distress under this Article, the injured person must suffer such harm that one can reasonably expect a person in the claimant’s position to suffer serious mental anguish or emotional distress from the experience, and the claimant’s mental anguish or emotional distress must be severe, debilitating, and foreseeable.
    Damages suffered as a result of mental anguish or emotional distress for injury to another shall be recovered only in accordance with this Article.