Sniper suing police over psychological trauma

Date:May 10, 2019

The New South Wales Police are being sued for negligence by a sniper who sustained psychological damage from the siege of the Sydney Lindt Cafe in 2014.

On December 15, 2014, the Lindt Cafe was taken under siege, where an armed man held 18 hostages for 16 hours. During the course of the siege, 12 hostages managed to escape, however, the manager of the cafe was executed by the gunman. After this shooting, police stormed the cafe and shot the gunman. During this time another hostage was killed by fragments of police bullets.

A police sniper who was on the scene during the siege is suing the NSW Police under a civil lawsuit, claiming that the lives of the two deceased hostages could have been saved if it hadn't been for certain decisions made from senior officers. In a 30-page document, the officer claims that as the result of this he has suffered from psychological trauma. The lawsuit is expect to be addressed in 2020.

What compensation can be sought for negligence?

In NSW, negligence is governed under the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW), and is outlined as being where a person isn't acting with reasonable care. In order for a claim of negligence to be proven, it needs to be established that:

  • A duty of care existed between the two concerned parties.
  • One of the parties was negligent in their duty of care.
  • As the result of this negligence, an injury or damage was sustained.

There are many relationships where a duty of care is to be expected by default in the eyes of court, including doctor to patient, teacher and students, and employer to employee. Where employer and employee relationships are concerned, mental health is considered to be included in their duty of care if it relates directly to workplace activity or trauma. In these instances, you may be able to seek compensation under workers compensation or public liability, depending on the nature of the negligence. 

This isn't the first time an Australian work place has been approached for damages due to psychological trauma. In February, a journalist in Victoria was awarded AU$180,000 due to consistent exposure to traumatic scenes throughout her 10-year career, despite voicing concerns to her employers.

If you believe that you're entitled to compensation as the result of work-related trauma, it's important to reach out to an expert lawyer to assist with your case. The team at Gerard Malouf & Partners are well-versed in the world of compensation, and are dedicated to helping you seek a favourable outcome though our No Win No Fee guarantee.

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