Can you make a public liability injury claim for mental harm?

Date: Mar 14, 2014

Did you know that you can make a public liability injury claim for mental harm?

These cases may not be as common – or as straightforward – as slip and fall injury claims, but they are just as valid according to the Civil Liability Act 2002 (New South Wales).

The document clearly states that a plaintiff is allowed to collect damages if their injury arose “wholly or in part from mental or nervous shock”.

However, this can be quite a complex area of public liability, so it’s vital you get an experienced compensation lawyer to help you put together a case.

A plaintiff is only entitled to injury compensation if they:

– witness someone “being killed, injured or put in peril”; or

– are a close member of the victim’s family.

This latter definition covers the victim’s parents, spouse or de facto partner, children, stepchildren, dependents and siblings, including half- and step-siblings.

According to the Civil Liability Act 2002, not all mental harm is grounds for a public liability injury claim, though. In fact, only a plaintiff who is suffering from a recognised psychiatric illness is allowed to collect damages from the defendant.

It also states that one person (Person A) does not generally owe a duty of care to another (Person B) to prevent them from suffering mental harm.

The only situation in which Person A might owe a duty of care to Person B is when they “ought to have foreseen that a person of normal fortitude might, in the circumstances of the case, suffer a recognised psychiatric illness if reasonable care were not taken”.

When deciding whether or not to grant a plaintiff injury compensation, the judge will take a number of factors into consider. These include:

– whether the mental harm was a direct result of “sudden shock”

– what the relationship between the plaintiff and the victim was at the time of the latter person was killed, injured or put in peril

– whether the plaintiff actually witnessed someone being killed, injured or put in peril

– what the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant is or was before the accident occurred, if any.

As you can see, a plaintiff needs to meet a range of unique criteria to be entitled to make this kind of public liability injury claim.

If you think you could be eligible for injury compensation due to mental harm, or would like some advice on this area of the law, get in touch with Gerard Malouf Partners today.

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