Psychiatric Injury

Tort Law

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  • Created by: Chansa
  • Created on: 15-04-12 16:35

Psychiatric Injury

Psychiatric Injury is a form of personal injury. Historically, courts focused on the various ways in which harm tends to be caused; i.e. assault on an individual's mind or senses, rather than the physical impact.

- Nowadays, the courts maintain a clear distinction between physical and psyhiatric injury.

- Claimants have to show that they have an identifiable psychiatric illness.

Psychiatric Damage can arise in a number of ways

--> In Hambrook v Stokes Bros (1925), two factors were raised

-Proximity of the claimant to the incident

-Relationship of the claimant to the person injured.

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Distinction between Primary and Secondary Victims

In Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police (1991), Lord Oliver drew a distinction. He stated that primary victims are those directly involved, either immediately or mediately, as a participant. Additionally, Page v Smith (1995)- Lord Lloyd stated a primary victim is directly involved in the accident and well within the range of foreseeable physical injury.

However, secondary victims are those who are no more than passive and unwilling witnesses of injury caused to others.

Stress At WORK:

This may also lead to psychiatric damage due to pressure in the workplace.

In Walker v Northumberland County Council (1995), the claimant was successful after suffering a second mental breakdown caused by stress at work. After the first breakdown, the employers had stated that his workload would be reduced, but no steps were taken to do this.---> Reasonably foreseeable that the claimant would suffer breakdown if the workload wasn't reduced. He could recover as a Primary VICTIM.

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Secondary Victim

As a secondary victim, the psychiatric injury is suffered due to watching someone else's misfortune. It must be foreseeable in someone of 'ordinary fortitude'

---> Bourhill v Young (1943)

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