What makes a personal injury actionable?

Posted: 9th April 2018

Psych injuryThe Supreme Court has recently addressed an important question relating to personal injury claims and the point at which an injury can be sufficient to justify a legal claim for compensation.

The case concerned a number of workers who had been exposed to platinum salts and become sensitised to them.

This in itself does not cause health problems, but if there is further exposure, this can result in the worker developing asthma, skin rashes, rhinitis or similar allergic reactions.

The employer took steps to remove the workers from exposure as soon as sensitisation was noted, but they claimed that they had lost out because they would have to accept lower-paid work or have their employment terminated.

The High Court rejected their claim on the ground that they has sustained no injury, so any claim they had was for pure economic loss. That ruling was subsequently confirmed by the Court of Appeal.

The workers appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled that if an injury (in this case a physiological change) is sustained which makes a person appreciably worse off in respect of their health or capacity, a cause of action does exist to allow them to bring a claim.