“Bystander” claims

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in .

“If I witness a serious crash, and it upsets me, can I sue for damages?”

Over the years, we have had cases where people who weren’t involved in a crash saw it happen, and were upset by what they witnessed afterward. They asked us whether they could file a suit against the driver who caused the crash, even though they weren’t involved in it, or physically hurt themselves.

It’s possible. Michigan law allows so-called “bystander claims” for witnesses under certain circumstances. There are three basic requirements:

  1. First of all, you would have to be an immediate family member of the injured person; if not, you won’t have a case (unless the at-fault driver hit you, too);
  2. Secondly, the accident has to be serious enough so that it is reasonable to claim that seeing it would be extremely shocking; and
  3. You have to prove that you had a bad emotional reaction to what you saw.

If you can meet all three requirements, you may be able to sue the driver who caused the accident that you saw, but that you were not directly involved in.

Source: 67 Mich App 363

Written By Steven Matz

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
array digital logo
© Matz Injury Law.
The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 33 1/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 33 1/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients. 

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients.  We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims.  Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.

Lets Talk Close window

22 not 33

Other firms charge 33%
We win or you don't pay | 24/7 Team Support | Over 10k Cases Of Experience