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A primary victim is a claimant who was directly involved as a participant in the incident that caused their psychiatric injury.
Lord Oliver in Alcock v Chief Constable South Yorkshire provided three examples of claimants who he would classify as primary victims:
The claimant was within the actual area of physical danger when the accident occurred or reasonably believed at the time that they were in danger.
The House of Lords in White v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police clarified that rescuers are not a special category of primary victim. If the claimant was a rescuer who went to the aid of others involved in an accident, they will only be defined as a primary victim if they were, or reasonably believed themselves to be, in danger. If a rescuer does not meet this test, then they will be classified as a secondary victim and will therefore need to satisfy the control mechanisms before they can recover damages for psychiatric injury.
Lord Oliver in Alcock also suggested primary victims include claimants who involuntarily caused the death or injury of a third party because of the defendant’s negligence or reasonably believed that they had done so. Again, it is doubtful whether this distinct category has survived White. In Hunter v British Coal, the court refused compensation to a
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