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While the majority of personal injury claims are for physical injuries, it is also possible to claim compensation for psychological trauma. Like with physical injury claims, to claim for psychological damage, your injury must have been directly caused by a traumatic incident that occurred because of someone else’s negligence. There is also a limitation period of three years.
Psychological injuries are often caused by sudden traumatic or stressful experiences outside the realm of ordinary experience, such as a car accident or criminal assault. These injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety disorder, can have life-changing effects that are sometimes more debilitating than a physical condition.
Psychological trauma claims usually accompany or form part of claims for physical injury but can also exist on their own. For a psychological trauma claim to be valid, the symptoms of the condition must persist for weeks or even months following the traumatic incident that caused it.
There are two types of psychological trauma victims: primary victims and secondary victims. The majority of claimants are primary victims although some secondary victims are also able to claim compensation.
Please note: if you are suffering from a psychological condition that has not arisen following a sudden traumatic incident and you do not meet the criteria below, you will not be eligible to claim.
Primary victims are people who are directly involved in an incident and have suffered psychological trauma as a result of someone’s negligent actions. Even if you weren’t physically injured, if there was a threat of serious injury which has caused you to suffer psychologically, you may have the right to claim. For instance, if you were a cyclist who was nearly hit by an oncoming bus, you would be able to claim for any mental injury the traumatic incident caused.
Secondary victims are individuals who suffer a psychological reaction to witnessing first-hand a serious accident or near-miss involving a loved one. In order for a secondary victim to make a claim, they must meet the following criteria:
The symptoms of psychological trauma vary depending upon the specific condition. For PTSD, they can include flashbacks, emotional avoidance and sleep deprivation. On the other hand, people with depression are persistently low in mood, have no motivation or interest in anything, while anxiety sufferers have intense feelings of worry and physical effects such as heart palpitations or dizziness.
If you have an existing mental condition, for your claim to be valid, its symptoms must have substantially worsened as a direct result of the traumatic incident.
Because of the complex nature of psychological injuries, these claims can be more complicated than physical injury claims and there are a number of specific criteria that must be met. During the claims process, you will usually meet with a psychiatrist who will clinically assess the extent and prognosis of your illness as well as any treatment that is required.
The success of your case will depend on the integrity of the psychiatric assessment, the quality of the associated medical notes and whether they support the account you provide as part of your claim.
The severity of your symptoms as well as the effect your injury has had on life and work will be taken into consideration when determining the value of your case. The compensation you receive will also reflect any loss of earnings you have experienced and will help to recover the cost of treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is not available on the NHS.
As every case is different with its own set of unique circumstances, each claim will be considered on an individual basis. However, there are general parameters that will usually be observed for different levels of psychological trauma:
If you believe you have suffered a psychological trauma following a traumatic incident involving you or your loved one, you may be able to claim compensation. For information, get in touch with our expert personal injury lawyers at First Personal Injury. A member of our experienced team will be able to give you a clearer indication of how much compensation you are entitled to and can talk you through the process of claiming. Call 0800 808 9740 or contact us online using our enquiry form.
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