A person (H) visits a building being interested to have it on lease. H is on a wheel chair, the building roof start falling and H is killed instantly by heavy tile. H's friend (M) saw her being killed. M goes into deep shock and remains in deep shock and become unable to work for a year.

I want to consider whether the owner or occupier is liable for M's shock and aftermaths?

  • Hi, welcome to the site! Can you specify a jurisdiction?
    – Pat W.
    Dec 20 '15 at 13:27

Easy part first, there is no contract between the owners and M so there is no action possible under contract law.

For tort law, the only one I can see is the tort of negligence. To succeed, M would need to demonstrate:

  1. The owners owed M a duty of care
  2. They failed in that duty
  3. As a result of that failure M suffered harm that was reasonably foreseeable to the owners.

Ultimately this is a matter of evidence but there are difficult problems for M on all these steps.

  1. Do the owners of a building have a duty to someone who did not enter that building?
  2. Was the roof collapse the fault of the owners or was it beyond their control (e.g. Earthquake)? Even if there were no external factors was the poor state of the roof something the owners could or should have known?
  3. It is highly likely that even if the first 2 are proven, that damage to M would not be reasonably foreseeable in a legal sense. If M had witnessed the friend die in a car accident without being an occupant of an involved vehicle the negligent driver would not be responsible for M's damage: same principle here.
  • Hi Dale, thank you very much for your answer. I have re-posted the question with more details. My ambiguity is that when a person visiting a premises is killed due to negligence and his/her friend got shocked after looking him/her being killed: is it not too remote? Dec 21 '15 at 5:22

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