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Psychiatric injury settlement for woman who witnessed aftermath of daughter's accident

Serious injury lawyer settles claim for woman left traumatised after witnessing daughter's injuries

Posted on 24 August 2015

Christine Tallon has recovered damages for a client who sustained psychiatric injury having witnessed the immediate aftermath of a road traffic collision which occurred in August 2013 and in which her daughter sustained serious and multiple injuries.

The client did not in fact see her daughter at the scene of the accident and it was not until a few hours later that she received a call from the hospital and arrived at hospital some three hours after the collision had occurred.

She did however then see the horrific facial injuries sustained and assisted nursing staff in removing fragments of glass from her daughter’s face causing her to sustain psychiatric injury resulting in flashbacks and nightmares for some time.

Following a number of counselling sessions over an extended period of time and funded by the defendant, settlement was agreed prior to the issue of court proceedings.

The client said:

“At a time when you feel your world has stopped and you cannot see the wood for the trees, Christine helped me obtain the support through counsellors, medical assessments etc that I needed to get back to almost normal living. Christine was always willing to discuss problems, find solutions and help carry the load.

“I was informed of what was happening every step of the way and received not only the best psychiatric help but the very best legal help. I will never be able to say thank you enough. Christine and her team were wonderful. They turned what I though was going to be a very stressful time into something that I will be eternally grateful that I had Christine in my corner carrying the load. Thank you.”

Serious injury solicitor at Leigh Day Christine Tallon commented:

“The law in England and Wales, whilst recognising an entitlement to compensation for close family who witness the immediate aftermath of an injury sustained by another family member, is really quite restrictive.

“In order to succeed in establishing entitlement, it is currently necessary to provide that there is a) a close tie of love and affection with the primary victim – in this case her daughter b) that the person seeking to claim witnessed the ‘immediate aftermath’ c) have a direct perception of the harm caused to the primary victim and d) be a person of ‘reasonable’ fortitude.

"I do consider that some reform on the law is required in this area – particularly in relation to the definition of ‘immediate aftermath’ as there is often a fine line between witnessing the ‘immediate aftermath’ as opposed to witnessing the consequences of the accident some time later.

“I am pleased that the Defendant recognised my client’s entitlement in this instance and provided funding for treatment. Whilst she remains at risk of a relapse of psychiatric symptoms in the context of life events, the settlement includes an element of funding for future counselling.”