In Texas, one of the limited circumstances in which a plaintiff may recover for mental anguish in the absence of a related physical injury is in a "bystander" case—a case involving the witnessing of serious injuries to a third party. Three specific foreseeability factors must be satisfied: 1. the bystander must be near the scene of the incident; 2. there must be a "contemporaneous perception" of the incident; and 3. the bystander and the victim must be closely related. Texas courts have struggled most with one of the three factors in particular—whether the bystander's damages resulted from a "contemporaneous perception" of the incident.

The seminal modern Texas bystander case is from the Texas Supreme Court in 1988 in Freeman v. City of Pasadena. In Freeman, the plaintiff hurried to the scene of an automobile wreck after someone rang his doorbell and told him about the wreck. At the scene, he saw the demolished automobile, surrounded by lights, ambulances, wreckers, helicopters and police cars. When the plaintiff approached an open ambulance, he saw one of his stepsons lying on a gurney, his face covered with blood and one arm broken.

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