Psychiatric Illness in Negligence

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  • Psychiatric Illness - Negligence
    • Courts will only compensate for medically recognized illnesses rather than claims for distress, sorrow or grief
      • Also they are more likely to award Comp. if it has come from a physical injury - Attia v British Gas [1987]
        • 4 Main Policy Considerations of the Courts
          • 1. Difficulty in differentiating grief and pysch. illness
          • 2. People "looking for" compensation
          • 3. Floodgates of liability
          • 4. Disproportionate liability concerns
      • 4 Main Policy Considerations of the Courts
        • 1. Difficulty in differentiating grief and pysch. illness
        • 2. People "looking for" compensation
        • 3. Floodgates of liability
        • 4. Disproportionate liability concerns
    • Effect of  the Type of Victim
      • Primary Victims
        • A victim who has reasonable feared for own safety and been placed in physical danger by D's negligence
        • Provided physical harm is foreseeable. Pysch harm does not have to be - Paige v Smith [1996]
      • Secondary Victims
        • Witnesses or those involved in the immediate aftermath - Alcock v CC of South Yorkshire [1992]
        • Pysch Illness must be reasonably foreseeable to a victim of normal fortitude - Bourhill v Young [1943]
        • Alcock Control Mechanisms
          • Lord Wilberforce 3 Criteria to restrict liability
          • 1. Proximity of Relationship with immediate victim must be a "close relationship of love and affection"
            • Only presumed for spouses, parents, children
          • 2. Proximity in time and space to a "high degree" (see Gaili-Atkinson [2003] and note a live TV broadcast does not cover this (Alcock)
          • 3. Sudden Shock - means by which the injury is caused - Sion v Hampsted HA [1994] "a coma is not a sudden shock so no liability" .
            • Being informed of accident does not fulfill SS
              • But if you negligently give distressing news you may be liable - AB v Thameside and Glessop HA [1997]
    • Impact of White v CC of South Yorkshire [1998]
      • Employers: Duty to protect employees from pysch harm is no different from their duty to protect all people
      • Unwitting agents: Difficult to argue you unwittingly harmed TP bc of D negligence but it is possible (W v Essex CC [2000]
      • Rescuers
        • WHo suffer physical injury is foreseeable [Haynes v Harwood 1935] and may even be owed a DoC if the one who is in danger isn't Videan [1963]
        • Who sufer pyschiatric harm must've been placed into a real physical danger
    • Can sue if because of D's negligence you believed you had hurt someone else - Dooley v Cammell [1971]

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