In a recent case before a Georgia appeals court, the court considered whether children’s exposure to a traumatic boating accident was sufficient to recover emotional damages.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, a family rented a boat while they were vacationing at Lake Burton in Rabun County, Georgia. They took the boat out on the lake, and when the uncle made a turn, the boat hit its own wake and water spilled into the bow of the boat, where the children were seated. One of the children, who was seven years old, either jumped from the boat or was washed from the boat. The uncle put the boat in reverse, and after he stopped the engine, realized that the seven-year-old was missing, and found him entangled in the propeller. The child died as a result of his injuries. The boy’s parents, as well as the children in the boat, filed a claim against the boat manufacturer and others for negligence.
The court considered the plaintiffs’ claims as claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The boat manufacturer moved to dismiss the claims, and after its motion was denied, appealed to the Georgia court of appeals. The issue before the court of appeals was whether water swamping a boat may constitute a sufficient physical impact under Georgia’s impact rule.