Secondary Victim Claims Briefing – June 2020



So-called “secondary victim” claims for damages for psychiatric injury are hard to establish.  For the last 30 to 40 years, and for reasons founded in both difficulties of diagnosis and perhaps a mistrust of injuries you cannot see, claims for damages for psychiatric injuries have been regulated by “control Mechanisms”.  Some were removed by the House of Lords in Page v Smith [1996] AC 155, but only for “primary victims”.  For “secondary victims” – i.e. those who witnessed the death or injury of someone else and suffer psychiatry as a result – formidable obstacles to success still remain. 

A secondary victim must prove (a) that he/she witnessed a shocking, horrifying event (or its immediate aftermath) that (b) caused recognisable psychiatric injury and (c) that he/she had a close tie of love and affection with the person injured, killed or imperilled and (d) that the event was witnessed by direct perception (and not by having heard about the event from a third person or through some other medium) and (e) that he/she was close to the shocking event in both time and space.

In this Briefing, Edward Bishop QC and Laura Johnson discuss how secondary victim claims can be difficult for claimants to succeed in, with Laura drawing on the recent judgment in Paul v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.

Read the Briefing in full here 

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