Q&As

Do you have any case law relating to secondary victim claims whereby the psychological injury was suffered as a result of the loss of children?

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Published on LexisPSL on 09/04/2018

The following PI & Clinical Negligence Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Do you have any case law relating to secondary victim claims whereby the psychological injury was suffered as a result of the loss of children?
  • Secondary victims
  • Case law
  • McLoughlin v O'Brian
  • Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police
  • Case law post-Alcock
  • Taylorson v Shieldness Produce Ltd
  • Walters v North Glamorgan NHS Trust
  • Galli-Atkinson v Seghal

Do you have any case law relating to secondary victim claims whereby the psychological injury was suffered as a result of the loss of children?

Secondary victims

A secondary victim is one who suffers psychiatric injury not by being directly involved in the incident but by witnessing it and either:

  1. seeing injury being sustained by a primary victim, or

  2. fearing injury to a primary victim

For further guidance, see Practice Note: Psychiatric injury—secondary victims.

Case law

McLoughlin v O'Brian

In this case the claimant’s husband and three children were involved in a road accident caused by the negligence of the defendants. One of the claimant’s children was killed and its husband and other two children were severely injured. At the time of the accident the claimant was at home two miles away. The claimant claimed damages against the defendants for the nervous shock, distress and injury to its health caused by the defendants' negligence.

The House of Lords held that the test of liability for damages for nervous shock was reasonable foreseeability of the claimant being injured by nervous shock as a result of the defendant's negligence. Applying that test, the claimant was entitled to recover damages from the defendants because even though the claimant was not at or near the scene of the accident at the time or shortly afterwards the nervous shock suffered by her was a reasonably foreseeable

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