We are often approached by members of the public who have witnesses a nasty accident, sometimes fatal, which has caused them emotional upset and they want to find out if they can claim compensation.
To make a claim for compensation psychiatric damage must extend beyond grief or emotional distress to a recognised mental illness for example depression or post traumatic stress disorder and medical evidence must support this diagnosis.
You must be able to prove that someone has been negligent and caused the accident you have witnessed such as a car driver causing an accident by failing to drive with due care and attention.
If in addition to suffering a mental illness you were also physically injured in the accident, or could forseeably have been physically injured in the accident because of your involvement in it, you should succeed in claiming compensation for the mental illness by virtue of the fact you would be classed as a "primary victim".
A "secondary victim" is someone who suffers a mental illness after witnessing the horrific event but without being exposed to any danger for example a pedestrian coming across the aftermath of a fatal car accident. In these cases courts have been reluctant to award damages and open the floodgates to thousands of claims. For this reason strict requirements must be met in order for compensation to be awarded.
The leading case on this subject was borne out of the Hillsborough disaster where football supporters were crushed to death during the match. The House of Lords decided that in order to recover compensation the vicitim must have seen the shocking event with their own unaided senses therefore merely witnessing the event on television would not qualify. If the mental illness was caused by witnessing the death or injury of another person the victim must show a close relationship to that person for example parents and children.
The final stipulation is that the mental illness must be sudden and not a gradually developing condition such as the development of depression from living with someone who has been seriously injured in an accident.
Damages from psychiatric illness can be as much as £70,000 if the illness is severe with a poor prognosis. Where there is a good prognosis and a marked improvement within a few years damages can be between £4,000 and £12,000. These valuations depend upon factors such as future vulnerability, the prognosis, the ability to cope with life and work, the extent to which treatment will be successful and the effect on the injured person's relationships.
To discuss whether or not you have a valid claim please contact Clare or Sarah on 01952 426134 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 01952 426134 end_of_the_skype_highlighting now. If you refer your personal injury claim to us you coud be entitled to £100 bonus payment, please see our offer.
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