Do I have a claim following husband's accident?

Last year my husband had an accident when a van collided with his bike. My husband asked a bystander to call me and I went straight to the scene. I found it traumatic seeing my husband lying on the ground in obvious pain. I went with him in the ambulance to hospital and since then I have had flashbacks and cannot sleep and feel low. My sister says I may also be able to claim compensation – is she right?
Helena, by e-mail

Answer

You could potentially make a claim as what’s called a ‘secondary’ victim.  Your husband is what is known as the primary victim. In order to succeed with such a claim you would need to satisfy the following test:

  1. You must have witnessed the shocking event or aftermath first hand;
  2. The shock must be a sudden assault on the your psychiatric system;
  3. You must be able to demonstrate a ‘close tie of love and affection’ towards the primary victim;
  4. It must be reasonable foreseeable that a person of ‘normal fortitude’ would have suffered psychiatric damage;
  5. You must have suffered from a recognised psychiatric condition

It appears that you meet the criteria so, subject to a formal psychiatric diagnosis, your claim should succeed. I would get a solicitor involved and instruct a Consultant Psychiatrist to examine you and provide a report dealing with a diagnosis, causation (that the psychiatric injury resulted from the accident), available treatment and your prognosis.

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