$1 million compensation payout for PTSD upheld by Supreme Court

Date: Jan 12, 2020

compensation payout of more than $1 million awarded to a former Queensland police officer was upheld by the Supreme Court in a decision made earlier this month.

The officer’s claim was for coverage of a medical condition, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that he developed after witnessing a fatal car accident while on the job. The insurer of the driver killed in the accident was originally held liable for the costs.

Background of the case

The police officer developed PTSD after being among the first responders on the scene of the car accident, according to reports. He had originally sued the insurer of the deceased driver for damages and received more than $1 million for his injuries and expenses.

His symptoms included “insomnia, anxiety, depression, and specific post-traumatic symptoms such as flashbacks and reliving experiences”, according to 9 News.

According to various news outlets reporting on the case, including the Brisbane Times, the insurer, AAI Limited, had appealed that decision on the grounds that the officer was simply acting in the course of his occupation. Because of this, the insurance company felt that he was therefore not “entitled to damages for ‘pure psychiatric injury'”.

Part of AAI’s argument against the original judgment was driven by their claim that if this payout was upheld, it would potentially set a precedent allowing a whole new wave of plaintiffs specifically, police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, and other emergency workers to make similar claims for mental injuries suffered in the line of duty.

How did the court rule?

The court dismissed the insurance company’s appeal, stating that the original ruling was correct. This reaffirms the finding that the officer was eligible to claim compensation from the driver’s insurance company for his injury even though he suffered that injury in the line of duty.

To overturn the compensation simply because of the precedent it might set would be “allow[ing] policy to determine the outcome rather than to apply the principles that have been established in relevant case law”, according to the ruling from Justices Walter Sofronoff, Philip McMurdo and Anthe Philippides.

Their final ruling seems to establish that medical workers and other professionals who suffer injuries in the line of duty can make a claim for compensation of related costs and expenses, so long as they meet the standard eligibility requirements associated with their specific case.

Are you suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? For assistance receiving compensation to help cover your medical costs and other expenses, contact the compensation lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts or email your enquiry.