Recovering Damages for Mental Anguish in Wrongful Death Suits: The Elimination of the Physical Injury/Physical Manifestation Requirement



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Texas Tech Law Review


The original reasons for the physical injury/manifestation requirement are no longer valid. Proving a mental injury is not beyond the capacity of medical science, especially in wrongful death cases, since the emotional reaction to the untimely death of a family member is one of the most predictable of human responses. This element of predictability satisfies tort law's concern with limiting liability for negligence to foreseeable consequences. If each member of society has a duty to refrain from activity which might harm another, if he or she violates that duty, if foreseeable harm results, and if proximate cause can be established, then there is no remaining justification for not allowing recovery. For all of these reasons, the Texas Supreme Court was correct in its decision in Moore v. Lillebo. The justifications of the past, in light of modern medical knowledge, are in conflict with the fundamental principle of tort law: a negligent wrongdoer is responsible for the natural, foreseeable consequences of his misconduct, including the mental anguish resulting from the death of a loved one.



Tort law, Negligence, Moore v. Lillebo, Mental injury, Wrongful death, Mental anguish, Damages


18 Tex. Tech L. Rev. 893