Psychiatric Injury and Secondary Victim Compensation Claims

Many people assume that to make a personal injury compensation claim, you must have sustained a physical injury. However, secondary victims can suffer solely from a psychiatric injury as a result of an accident they have witnessed.

Who can be a secondary victim?

Secondary victims are those who have witnessed a distressing event or accident but have not been directly involved, i.e. not the primary victim.

One of the most common examples is where a pedestrian has witnessed a road traffic accident whereby the primary victim has suffered serious injury or has died. The secondary victim may suffer with a psychiatric injury such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result.

If you have witnessed a traumatic incident or near-miss accident of a loved one and have had to seek medical advice due to psychological distress, our personal injury solicitors may be able to help you.

Our expertise with psychiatric injury claims

Our specialist psychiatric injury solicitors have extensive experience in dealing with claims involving PTSD, panic and anxiety disorders, phobias and depression following an accident.

Our personal injury lawyers represent secondary victims who have witnessed a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, and have suffered psychiatric injury as a result.

Psychiatric injury symptoms may not be immediately apparent, and can take months, or even years, to present. So, even if your condition develops in the medium to long-term, you may still be able to make a claim as a secondary victim.

Case study | Secondary victims of personal injury and medical negligence

Assessing your psychiatric injury claim

Claiming compensation for PTSD and other psychiatric injury claims can be complex. A specialist personal injury solicitor will need to prove that your injury was as a direct result of an accident.

Each claim is unique, and we offer a no win, no fee initial consultation with a member of our personal injury team to establish whether you are likely to be able to successfully claim for psychiatric injury.

In assessing your claim, we will need to assess your long-term vulnerability, the severity of your secondary injury, the likelihood of treatment being successful and your prognosis for recovery.

How are secondary victim claims assessed?

For a secondary victim to succeed in a compensation claim, they must meet the following five ‘control tests’:

  1. It must be reasonably foreseeable that a person of ‘normal fortitude’ (someone who is not clinically prone to suffering from mental harm) might suffer psychiatric injury from such an event;
  2. They are or were a ‘close tie of love and affection’ with the primary victim;
  3. They were present or in the vicinity of the incident, and witnessed either the event itself or the immediate aftermath;
  4. The secondary victim suffered a recognised psychiatric injury such as PTSD; and
  5. The incident that you witnessed was ‘shocking’. This means that a distressing series of events over a period of time would unfortunately be unlikely to succeed.

You must also be able to demonstrate that the event was witnessed in person and not on TV, for example.

If you need specialist therapy or rehabilitation, our psychiatric injury solicitors will seek payment from the other party to fund the treatment you need. We can also refer you to psychiatric support groups outside of the legal process.

Why choose Barcan+Kirby for your psychiatric injury claim?

Our psychiatric injury solicitors act for clients throughout the UK from our offices in Bedminster, Bishopston, Clifton, Kingswood, Queen Square and Thornbury.

Our specialist team are Business Members of the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) and are listed in their guide to choosing a specialist Personal Injury Solicitor. Our personal injury solicitors are also included in the Headway Head Injury Solicitors Directory.

We’re highly ranked by Chambers and Partners UK and hold a band 3 ranking for our expertise and the quality of our work. We’ve also received a tier 3 ranking for the South West by Legal 500.

Case study | personal injury claim after Salisbury train crash

Psychiatric injury FAQs

A primary victim is someone who has suffered an injury or has died as the result of an accident that wasn’t their fault.

A secondary victim is a person who suffers psychiatric injury as a result of witnessing a serious incident, event, or the death of a loved one who is the primary victim.

The most common type of injury suffered by secondary victims is PTSD, however, there are various other injuries caused by a traumatic event, including:

  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Adjustment Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Agoraphobia
  • Hypervigilance

The standard time limit for making any type of personal injury claim is three years. This will either be counted from when the injury occurred or when you became aware of it.

However, there are circumstances where you may have longer to claim, including:

  • If the injured party is under 18 years old: their parents or guardians can make a claim until they turn 18. The claimant can then bring their own claim up until their 21st birthday.
  • Where the claimant lacks mental capacity: there is no time limit for someone else to make a claim for them.
  • If you need to claim for someone who died: you will normally have three years from their date of the event to make a claim on behalf of their dependants.

Our personal injury solicitors offer a no win, no fee consultation. During this meeting, we will talk through your claim and how best to fund it.

It is also worth checking any existing insurance policies that you have to see if the cost of your claim is covered.

Further information on secondary victim and psychiatric injury claims

We understand that it can be difficult to come to terms with a serious psychiatric injury.

We offer a free consultation with a member of our specialist personal injury team to talk about your options and how best to fund your claim.

For further information about psychiatric injury claims or secondary victims in personal injury cases, call 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.


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