Psychiatric injury claims are more common than people often realise. They can occur as a consequence of trauma in many different situations. Often psychiatric damage is a secondary or additional injury not always fully recognised by the people involved, including lawyers handling a compensation claim.
Williamsons have dealt with many claims for psychiatric injury ranging from minor psychological disorders to serious post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by a variety of situations.
Sometimes the cause of depression and its consequences can be the inability to get on with life because of the impact of a primary physical injury. In one case the branch manager of a wholesale business who suffered a moderate whiplash injury to his neck became depressed, divorced, unemployed and ultimately compensated for the inorganic damage as well as the physical trauma.
In other cases, psychological disorder is a result of stress and anxiety caused by the actions of an employer by, for example, overburdening with work, bullying, demoralising etc.
Minor claims of this nature are often dealt with as an element of injury to feelings within employment claims, including whistleblowing.
We represented a lorry driver who suffered serious post traumatic stress disorder as a result of a road traffic accident involving a vehicle that overtook him and hit head on at close proximity a truck travelling in the opposite direction, destroying the vehicle and killing the driver.
The claim involved not only the relatively straightforward effects of PTSD but also a partial loss of vision for which there was no organic explanation and which was attributed by the claimant’s psychiatrist to a conversion disorder. What is classified as a dissociative disorder used to be known in the early part of the last century, notably amongst injured soldiers, as hysterical blindness.
In another case, Michael Williamson acted for a farmer’s teenage daughter who was crushed against a stone wall by a neighbouring farmer’s bull. Whilst not severely physically injured, she was emotionally scarred by the event and ultimately we won compensation for her many times the amount that had been offered by insurers (and almost accepted) before we became involved.
The case is a particularly good illustration of the concept of claims capture by insurance companies and a process whereby they tried to settle with claimants direct by agreeing to pay far less than the claim is actually worth. For more on this see our blog post, Foxes and chickens and others.