Being in an accident can be a rather traumatic experience and everyone who is involved in an accident is likely to be affected psychologically, in one way or another.

If you have been involved in an accident and you have been diagnosed to have a recognised psychiatric condition, then you might be able to claim compensation.

The most common psychiatric condition which people develop in such circumstances is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Other psychiatric conditions that can be caused by accidents include anxiety disorders, specific phobias, and depression.

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PTSD is an anxiety disorder which is caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. The symptoms may develop immediately after the event or weeks, months and even years later.

PTSD affects up to 30% of people who experience a traumatic event. It affects around 5% of men and 10% of women at some point during their life.

People with PTSD usually would experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Feeling of isolation
  • Irritability
  • Guilt
  • Insomnia
  • Concentration difficulty

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It is possible to successfully treat a PTSD. The particular type of treatment will depend on the particular facts of each case. This may include:

  • Watchful waiting: not treating the symptoms but waiting to observe whether they will improve or get worse
  • Psychological treatment: trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), etc.
  • Medication: paroxetine, mirtazapine, etc.

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A person who has directly been a part of the accident, i.e. a victim of the accident, is a primary victim. Such a person will always have the right to claim compensation if they have suffered a recognised psychiatric condition due to the accident.

A person who witnesses the accident, i.e. a bystander, is a secondary victim and they will only be able to bring a claim if:

  • They have developed a recognised psychiatric condition as a result of them witnessing the accident;
  • There is a close tie of love and affection with a primary victim to the accident;
  • They have been present at the accident or its immediate aftermath;
  • They have directly perceived the accident or its aftermath, as opposed to being informed about it by a third party, or having watched it on TV.

The above principles have been established by Lord Oliver in Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police [1991], where the case concerned the Hillsborough disaster.

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Our solicitors are experts in personal injury claims with years of experience. We have also taken on numerous psychiatric injury cases in a variety of circumstances.

Due to our experience in the area, we have an excellent understanding of what a psychiatric injury case entails, including the sensitivity of such cases and the great importance and impact a successful compensation claim can have on our clients.

We have successfully claimed compensation for many of our clients in a variety of circumstances, including:

  • Our client suffered a horrific scar to her face and as a result she was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. She was awarded £30,000 in compensation for her physical and psychiatric injury.
  • Our client was a lorry driver who got knocked over by a couple of cages when unloading the back of the lorry. Our client was diagnosed with depression and anxiety as a result of the fact that he could not return to work.
  • Our client was bullied and shouted at at her work place. She believed she suffered from severe depression as a result from the stress she experienced at work. She was awarded £90,000 in compensation.
  • Our client was involved in a severe head-on collision. As a result he was scared to get back behind the wheel. He was awarded £22,500 in compensation.

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There are two parts to any compensation claim, consisting of two types of damages:

General damages are calculated as a part of the compensation based on the type of injury and are designed to compensate for pain and suffering and the impact on the claimant's enjoyment of life.

Special damages are the more variable part of the compensation and depend on individual circumstances. The claimant may be able to recover:

  • Expenses relating to the cost of living with any disability;
  • Expenses to cover services provided by other people;
  • Future damage: future loss of earnings, future care and assistance, etc.
  • Increased accommodation costs;
  • Loss of earnings;
  • Medical expenses;
  • The cost of buying in care.

Establishing the level of special damages to be paid is a crucial part of a compensation claim. Compensation Solicitors Online have experience in compensation claims in cases of psychiatric injury.

The amount of damages you may receive in compensation for you psychiatric injury may vary, depending on:

  • Your ability to cope with life and work;
  • The effect on your relationships with family, friends and those with whom you come into contact;
  • The extent to which treatment would be successful;
  • Future vulnerability;
  • Prognosis;
  • Whether medical help has been sought.

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Generally, just like in all personal injury claims, psychiatric injury claims have a three year time limit i.e. court proceedings have to be issued at least one day before the third anniversary of the accident , otherwise they will be time barred and you will no longer be able to pursue your claim. (There are a few exceptions to this rule and the court does have some very limited discretion to extend the various time limits). You can still pursue a claim for psychiatric injury after the third anniversary of the accident, you just have to make sure court proceedings have been issued before that third anniversary in order to do so. We will be happy to discuss this further with you.

If you are a minor at the time of the accident, i.e. under 18 then the 3 year limitation date starts to run after you have turned 18. Furthermore, there also a complicated set of rules that allows the 3 years limitation date period to run from the date of knowledge of the incident/accident. These rules normally apply to clinical/medical negligence cases, industrial disease claims or psychiatric injury claims where they may be a long latency period between the incident giving rise to your claim and you first suffering any symptoms and becoming aware of it. The rules on this are technical and we will, once again, be happy to discuss this in detail with you.

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There are a variety of funding options open to you. We will discuss these options with you in more detail and where appropriate represent you on a no win no fee basis (also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement).

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If you would like to speak directly to a solicitor for a free and without obligation chat about your case call us on 0203 380 9406 or send us your details, with brief outline, by email to [email protected] and you will receive a prompt response.

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MIND: Post-traumatic stress disorder
HELP: Post-traumatic stress disorder
NHS: Treating post-traumatic stress disorder