Can we sue someone for emotional trama/ counseling after an auto accident?

A car hit a bicycle and the bicyclist landed on our car. The car was damaged pretty good with a lot of broken glass flying everywhere. The bicyclist was severely injured and was crying out and bleeding badly. Our 11-year old daughter was in the car and the accident has impacted her profoundly she will not ride her bike anywhere right now. The motorist was cited by police. The bicyclist, as reported by the insurance company investigation was travelling on the sidewalk and going too fast. All we know is that we were coming home from school and a bike and a person landed on the car and all hell broke loose.

Asked on October 22, 2017 under Accident Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You most likely cannot sue for counseling costs, emotional trauma, etc. after this accident. You can only sue for "foreseeable" "damages" (or costs, harm, etc.), which means only for those things reasonably or logically predictable or foreseeable in advance. It is not logically foreseeable that that if car A hits bicyclist B that B will land on car C and in the process cause emotional harm to tween passenger D. The causal chain is too unlikely and attenuated to support liability.

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