The following PI & Clinical Negligence Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
A secondary victim is one who suffers psychiatric injury not by being directly involved in the incident but by witnessing it and either:
seeing injury being sustained by a primary victim, or
fearing injury to a primary victim
For further guidance, see Practice Note: Psychiatric injury—secondary victims.
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 consequence of the defendant's negligence.
For further guidance on this case, see Practice Note: Psychiatric injury—secondary victims.
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