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Understanding Compensation Claims for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Jul 4, 2024
  • Latest Journal

by Alessandra Paduano

The consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) have been known for centuries, mainly recognised as arising in a combat situation.  Identified by varying names from shell shock and battle fatigue to vent du boulet (cannonball wind) in the Napoleonic wars and soldiers-heart in the American Civil War.  
In the modern world this serious mental health condition is far better understood. There are many extreme situations that can deliver PTSD as a consequence.  In the majority of cases the individual endures a violent incident such as a major accident whilst travelling by road, sea or air, a violent assault or a life-threatening event. Even witnessing such an event can cause this debilitating condition, especially in children and young people.

An important factor when considering taking legalaction to obtain compensation for PTDS is the time limits under The Limitation Act (1980).  Claimants in personal injury wishing to make a claim must start legal proceeding within three years of when the traumatic event occurred or the date that the claimant became aware of their PTSD attributed to the event. The case does not have to conclude within three year and matters can and often do continue beyond three years.

A survivor of traumatic event may eventually recover from any physical injuries but if PTSD manifests itself, in some cases it can life-limiting.  Giambrone & Partners’ personal injury lawyers have a wealth of experience in assisting clients to obtain compensation in complex personal injury cases where the event resulted not only in physical injuries but has also caused PTSD.

Alessandra  Paduano commented “to some extent, despite greater knowledge related to PTSD, it still remains a little-understood condition in some quarters, especially if the sufferer witnessed rather than experienced the ordeal. This can make claims against the perpetrator or organisation challenging to pursue. Compensation claims for PTSD are typically pursued through the civil court system, the eligibility criteria requires the claimant to be able to demonstrate that their condition has a clear link to the event. Also, that the event was caused by the  negligent or intentional actions of  another party.”

There are various contingencies to be met when considering a claim for compensation, depending on the nature of the event.

Duty of Care
The claimant must be able to demonstrate that an accident was caused by the negligent or intentional actions of another party.

• Workplace accident
An accident at work would nearly always place the   employer in the position of having been negligent, particularly if the hazard was clear, as they would have failed in their duty of care, unless the injured party did not comply with safety regulations.An employer that fails to provide a safe working environment by acting negligently or recklessly would be liable.

• Vehicle accident
If a vehicle is poorly maintained, especially in circumstances where any kind of weakness in its structure or in the fabric of the vehicle would almost always result in a catestrophic accident, for example an aeroplane, the liability is clear. Also, if the operator of the vehicle, a sea captain, pilot or train engineer, was reckless in their control of the vehicle.

• Medical Negligence
Healthcare professionals have a duty to provide a high level of care to their patients. Medical accidents can arise from misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, or failure to obtain informed consent. The actions amount to neglect and should have been avoidable.  

• Product Liability
Manufacturers have a duty to ensure their products are safe for consumers. Accidents may occur due to defective products, inadequate warnings, or failure to provide proper instructions for use.

• Sporting Accidents
Organisers of sporting events, coaches, and the owners of the facilities owe a duty of care to participants.Inadequate supervision, poor maintenance, lack of safety equipment or a slack attitude to rules aimed at safety.

• Environmental Risks
Entities and Authorities with responsibility for environmental safety owe a duty to prevent harm to the environment and to public health.Pollution, hazardous waste spills, or industrial accidents can occur as a result of breaches of duty.

Once the defendant's breach of duty directly has been established as the cause the claimant's PTSD, the process of pursuing a compensation claim for PTSD can begin.  Central to a successful PTSD compensation claim is expert medical evidence. This involves obtaining assessments and reports from qualified psychiatrists or psychologists who specialize in PTSD. These experts can provide valuable insights into the nature and severity of the claimant's condition, as well as its causal relationship to the traumatic event. Their testimony carries significant weight in establishing the claimant's entitlement to compensation.
If liability is established, the claimant may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, loss of earnings, medical expenses including psychological treatment.

Giambrone & Partners’ well regarded personal injury lawyers often attempt a negotiated settlement to avoid the ordeal of a court case for the victim. Pursuing a compensation claim for PTSD can be emotionally challenging, as it often involves reliving the traumatic event and discussing sensitive personal details. Our legal experts experienced in handling PTSD claims and are proficient in assessing the full extent of the claimant's losses and advocating for fair compensation. Our lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of the delicate nature of PTSD and will advise, guide and stand by the sufferer throughout the entire procedure.