Under UK law, the innocent victims and witnesses of traumatic events have a legal right to file mental injury claims if they suffer psychiatric damage as a result of those events.
If you have been involved in a life threatening episode, such as a vehicle collision, a fall from a height, or an armed conflict, you can develop a serious psychiatric condition, known as post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
There is, however, a wide range of potential psychiatric injuries that can be precipitated by involvement in life threatening episodes. Any psychiatric injury caused by such episodes is usually enough to justify a mental injury claim.
Mental injury claim compensation
If you have been the victim of a traumatic event, the only thing you need to do to have a valid claim is to prove that the action of another person has caused you psychiatric damage. Typically, mental injury claims bring victims compensation awards ranging between £1,000 and £100,000.
In order to make sure that your claim is successful, you must sustain a ‘recognisable psychiatric illness’ diagnosed by a specialist. If you experience trivial psychiatric or emotional problems, such as distress or grief, your claim may be rejected. Additionally, short-term psychiatric issues do not quality for mental injury compensation claims.
Claiming compensation for psychiatric illness
In addition to mental injury claims, which usually relate to sudden traumatic events, UK law allows you to claim compensation for psychiatric illness. For instance, you can claim compensation against your employer for a psychiatric condition resulting from stress at work. Although these claims are rarely successful, and this is especially because they must meet certain parameters established by the UK law, some people get compensated for the psychiatric illnesses that they develop due to stress at work.
If you sustain such illness, you must prove that your employer did nothing to protect you, even though he or she knew that you were vulnerable to stress. To avoid such claims, more and more employers adopt special systems that help them to identify the employees vulnerable to stress. By giving these employees access to special counselling schemes, employers ensure that they will not be held liable for the psychiatric illnesses that their workers develop due to stress at work.
Filing compensation claims for complex psychiatric conditions
Sometimes, traumatic events can lead to complex psychiatric conditions, which can convince a person that he or she only experiences physical symptoms. For instance, somatoform disorders are psychiatric conditions that trigger a series of physical symptoms, even though they have no identifiable physical causes.
If you suffer from such a condition as a result of stress at work, it is very difficult to prove that your symptoms are caused by a psychiatric disorder. Since symptoms are mostly physical, even medical professionals face problems when trying to diagnose and treat these conditions.
In this case, getting compensation for your suffering is almost impossible, especially because the judge may believe that you are inventing symptoms for the purpose of getting compensation.
One of the things you can do is to approach a specialist lawyer, who understands the medical and legal complexities of your case. We, the solicitors at Accident Advice Helpline, can help you out, and this is because we have plenty of experience in handling psychiatric illness and mental injury claims.
Date Published: December 2, 2013
Author: David Brown