Damages for Mental Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD and other mental injuries are life changing events for many people.  PTSD itself is an anxiety disorder which can be traced directly to an original trauma which a person has either experienced or been exposed to, or in which that person has been directly involved.

It is a compensable category of damages in personal injury cases if negligence is proven against the person responsible for its causation.  It can also arise out of a trauma occasioned to an employee in the course of his employer's employment where the employer has been negligent.  Such trauma can be caused through negligent work practices or indeed may be work stress, bullying, or harassment related, but must be reasonably foreseeable in causing the psychiatric illness.

A case involving psychiatric injury in the form of PTSD involves some trauma or tragic event.  It usually follows exposure to "an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury or other threat to one's physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm or threat of death of injury experienced by a family member or other close associate. The person's response to the event must involve intense fear helplessness or horror. The characteristic symptoms resulting from the exposure to the extreme trauma include persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness, and persistent symptoms of increased arousal. The full symptom picture must be present for more that 1 month and the disturbance must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning"

Irish courts rely on medical evidence based on these criteria in making awards of compensation, although not all cases are compensable in Irish Law.  There are some categories of cases which are not capable of being compensated, for example a plaintiff who brings a claim for grief or bereavement (which is not classified as mental injury) for the loss of a loved one arising out of the negligence of a third party, or  a soldier who develops a psychiatric disorder from combat per se. However damages can be awarded in such situations where a psychiatric injury has been caused or contributed to by the plaintiff's employer who exposes the plaintiff to unnecessary risks or who fails to monitor or treat early signs of that injury.

PTSD as a general rule normally shows and manifests itself within three months of a trauma occurring, although there are many cases where this does not happen within this time frame. Diagnosis of PTSD is done by means of psychiatric assessment through the interview process, although other complementary and more sophisticated methods for its diagnosis also exist.   It is generally treated though a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Even though a plaintiff may be suffering from a psychiatric disorder, the law nonetheless requires as a general rule that there exist a degree of proximity of a plaintiff to an accident itself, as well as proximity of a relationship between a plaintiff and a victim of an accident. The psychiatric injury must be caused by reason of a defendant's negligent act or omission, and it must be an actual apprehended physical injury to the plaintiff or to a person other that the plaintiff.  Additionally there must exist a duty of care between a plaintiff and a defendant, and the event complained of must be reasonably foreseeable.

If you have been unfortunate enough to be a victim of a trauma which has resulted in PTSD or some other form of psychiatric illness as a result of the negligence of third party, you may have a remedy in law.

Our firm has successfully dealt with many accidents over many years resulting in PTSD, nervous shock, and other forms of psychiatric illness. If you have been the victim of a trauma which has resulted in any of these illnesses we can help you.

Please contact us at (01) 6797939 or;
Email us at info@astapleton.com
for a free assessment of your case.

Comments are closed.