Claims and Psychiatric Illness

Introduction to claims under Psychiatric Illness

In English legal system, no damages are awarded for grief or sorrow caused by a person’s death. However, where a person who suffers psychiatric illness as a result of having been physically injured by the defendant or where he is been placed in physical danger and suffers from a psychiatric illness, as a result, can claim for damages.


  • Martin is involved in an accident and he has suffered injuries but also developed the psychiatric As a victim of an accident along with personal injury, he can also claim for Psychiatric illness.
  • Julie has witnessed the death of her daughter and subsequently has developed the psychiatric
  • Frank a rescuer attended a fire disaster at a tower block and witnessed the death and demise of the occupants. He has developed a psychiatric illness.

Where a person who suffers from psychiatric illness by witnessing the death, injury or imperilment of another person and with whom he/she have a close relationship of love and affection, that person can also claim damages for psychiatric illness occurred as a result of witnessing such event.

Meaning of Close relationship

A spouse, parents and children are presumed to have a close relationship of love and affection. For anybody else who just witnessed the incident and suffered from Psychiatric illness have to show the closeness of relationship and must bring evidence to prove such close ties of love and affection.


  • Anil attended the hospital, where his son was brought after a car accident and witnessed his death. He subsequently developed a psychiatric illness. Anil as a father may have a successful claim for damages, as a father he does not have to prove close ties or relationship of love and affection.
  • Chris witnessed a road traffic accident and death of his friend and developed psychiatric illness in order to claim damages for psychiatric illness Chris has to prove a relationship of close ties, affection and love.


Courts have treated Rescuers favourably; a person also owes a duty of care to rescuers as it is his/her acts or omissions which may have resulted in the occurrence of a tragedy. Any rescuer who subsequently develops a psychiatric illness by witnessing the tragedy and conducting rescue operation is likely to have a successful claim for damages without having to prove any relationship of love or affection with victims.

Communicator of the shocking news

The communicator of the shocking news, when disclosed appropriately, will not be held responsible for any psychiatric harm.


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legalally does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.

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