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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Compensation Claims & Psychological Injury Claims

 

When thinking about injuries after an accident, most people’s initial thoughts will be about physical injuries such as broken bones and lacerations. However, a traumatic accident can also leave both the victims and witnesses with serious psychological injuries, and in some cases post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

When it comes to making a compensation claim after an accident, psychological injuries are treated in the same way as physical injury: if they are an injury sustained as a result of the accident then you may be eligible for compensation.  Statistically speaking, the majority of claims which are taken to court are for physical injuries, meaning there may be people out there suffering alone with their psychological injuries, unaware that they may be entitled to make a claim.

If you have been involved in an accident, either as the victim or witness, and are suffering adverse psychological symptoms, such as nightmares and flashbacks, you may have a valid case for claiming compensation. Here at Lanyon Bowdler, our personal injury solicitors specialise in helping people like you to claim compensation for serious psychological injuries; please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your claim.

How Much Compensation Will I Receive For Psychological Injury or PTSD?

It is difficult to estimate exactly how much compensation you may be awarded as no two people experience psychological injury or PTSD in the same way. There are a number of factors which can affect the final amount, including the type of symptoms experienced, the severity of the symptoms, the impact they have on your day to day life, and the long-term prognosis of your condition.

When deciding on how much compensation to award, the judge will also take into account any loss of earnings you have already suffered, and the potential for future loss of earnings, as well as the cost of medical treatment required in your recovery.

Here at Lanyon Bowdler we pride ourselves on working closely with our clients to ensure the best possible outcome to your compensation claim, ensuring you receive the financial repatriation that you rightly deserve.

Is There A Time Limit For Filing A PTSD Claim?

As is the case with the majority of personal injury claims, you have three years from the date of the formal PTSD diagnosis or your first date of knowledge that you were suffering with the condition, whichever is earliest, in which to file a compensation claim. This means that even if you don’t develop psychological symptoms until several years after the traumatic incident, you may still be able to bring a claim dependant on your date of knowledge or the date of diagnosis.

The claims process for serious psychological compensation can be lengthy, potentially taking longer than three years to complete. However, as long as court proceedings are issued within a three year period from that earliest date of knowledge or diagnosis, you can continue with your claim.

In the case of a person under the age of 18 with PTSD, a relative or friend can file a claim on their behalf. If the child turns 18 and no claim has been made beforehand, they may make a claim themselves, and their three year period begins from the date of their 18th birthday.

Why Choose Lanyon Bowdler?

Our personal injury team has a wealth of experience in handling claims of a sensitive nature, such as those in which the claimant is suffering the effects of a serious psychological injury. We will handle your claim with the compassion and understanding you deserve, ensuring we work hard as part of your team to achieve the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to.

We are proud to have been recognised by The Legal 500 and Chambers UK for our work in handling personal injury claims. If you are looking for a lawyer to take on your case after a no-fault accident has left you suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder, then you need look no further than Lanyon Bowdler. We understand that finances are often a concern after an accident, which is why we are able to offer this service on a no win no fee basis, where you only pay us if your claim is successful.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological injury, also referred to as a psychiatric disorder, which is typically caused by experiencing a traumatic event, such as an accident. It is fairly common to experience symptoms such as anxiety and sleep problems after a traumatic event, and these symptoms usually subside after a few weeks. However, when the symptoms continue, they may indicate that the person is suffering from PTSD.

According to the NHS, approximately one in every three people who experience a traumatic event will develop post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD can affect anyone, no matter what their mental state was prior to the trauma. This means that even if you have never suffered with a mental illness previously, if you are suffering the effects of PTSD due to a traumatic incident that occurred through no fault of your own, you could still be eligible to make a claim for compensation.

What Are The Symptoms of PTSD?

The impact of PTSD on a person’s life can be equally as debilitating as a physical injury. Suffering from a serious psychological injury can affect your relationships with friends and family as you may find your personality and temperament change due to the symptoms you are experiencing. The condition can also affect your ability to do your job safely and efficiently, often leading to extended periods of absence from work, or even having to give up your job altogether.

Post-traumatic stress disorder will present differently in different people, but sufferers will usually exhibit some of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Hypervigilance (constantly feeling ‘on alert’ and assessing risks)
  • Disturbing flashbacks
  • Vivid nightmares or night terrors
  • Sleep walking
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Extreme anger
  • Numbness or dissociation
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Sleep problems such as insomnia or frequent waking
  • Avoiding situations that may trigger memories
  • Self-destructive behaviour like alcohol abuse or self-harm
  • Muscle tension
  • Heart palpitations and chest pains
  • Stomach pains and digestive issues
  • Night sweats
  • Extreme headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and sleeping problems can make it difficult for the sufferer to integrate with society and move on with their life. They may find themselves avoiding certain situations in case it triggers a painful flashback, and a disturbed sleep pattern can make people more prone to irritability and outbursts of anger, so they will often withdraw from society. In some cases, those suffering with PTSD may turn to drugs and alcohol in order to numb their pain, thus adding further health issues that can be traced back to the traumatic incident.

Whatever path your psychological injury has taken you on, you may have a valid case for claiming compensation. Our team of personal injury solicitors are highly qualified and experienced in handling compensation claims for serious psychological injuries, and will handle your claim with the utmost empathy and understanding.

What Are The Causes of PTSD?

It is estimated that around one in three  people who experience trauma will develop post-traumatic stress disorder. There are a number of different traumatic events which may trigger a serious psychological injury in both the victims and those who witness the incident or the immediate aftermath, including:

  • Serious road traffic accidents
  • A horrific accident at work
  • Violent assault e.g. mugging or sexual assault
  • Prolonged neglect, violence, or sexual abuse
  • Witnessing a violent death
  • Being kidnapped or held hostage
  • Military combat and accidents
  • Experiencing a terrorist attack
  • Natural disasters e.g. earthquakes, tsunamis
  • Suffering a life-limiting condition or terminal illness
  • A sudden, unexpected and/or violent death in the family
  • Medical negligence with life-changing implications
  • Sustaining life-changing injuries in an accident

PTSD can affect people of all ages, from all walks of life, regardless of any pre-existing mental health issues.

If you are suffering from extreme anxiety, flashbacks, sleeping problems, or any of the other symptoms associated with PTSD, after an accident which occurred through no fault of your own, you are not alone. Our knowledgeable and understanding personal injury team is experienced in handling cases just like yours, and we can help you to claim the compensation you deserve.

How is PTSD diagnosed?

It is not uncommon for the victims of an accident to suffer with anxiety and stress in the weeks after the incident. However, in many cases these symptoms subside after a couple of weeks without the need for medical intervention.

If the psychological effects of the accident continue, it may indicate a more serious psychological injury. A trip to see your GP can get the ball rolling with regards to a diagnosis. They will ask you some questions to gauge the nature and severity of your symptoms, and will usually refer you on to a mental health specialist for further assessment.

The specialist psychologist, psychiatrist or psychological therapist will carry out a comprehensive assessment, in which they will ask you a number of questions about the incident, the symptoms you are experiencing, and the impact that they are having on your day to day life. You may also be asked to undergo a period of active monitoring so that the specialist can track any changes in your symptoms over several weeks before they offer a formal diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

What Treatment Is Available For PTSD?

Once you have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the doctor will then discuss the right treatment plan depending on the particular symptoms you are suffering with. There are a number of treatment options, including:

  • Trauma-focused CBT - Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helps you to tackle negative thoughts and reframe them in order to come to terms with your traumatic experience and learn how to move forward with your life. This type of therapy can help you ease back into doing things you may have avoided since the incident, for example driving again after a serious road traffic accident.
  • Group psychotherapy - Therapy in a group setting allows sufferers to share their experience with others, and learn from the experiences of other PTSD sufferers. Talking to people who understand what you are going through can help you to process what has happened and find new ways to heal and cope.
  • Medication - Antidepressants and antipsychotics can be effective in reducing the symptoms associated with PTSD, and are often used in conjunction with psychological treatments such as group therapy or CBT.
  • Eye movement desensitisation - In an EMD session the patient will be asked to think about the trauma they experienced, whilst simultaneously keeping their eyes focused on the hand movements of the therapist. This type of therapy can help the sufferer to process their traumatic memories and think about them in a more positive light.

PTSD treatment is often successful in relieving the symptoms, however it is not always available on the NHS and patients may have to seek private treatment. If your PTSD was caused by a traumatic no-fault accident, a compensation claim can provide you with the necessary financial provisions to fund your treatment and support your recovery.

Can I Claim Compensation As A Secondary Victim?

The simple answer to this question is “yes”. If you witnessed a traumatic event but were not directly involved, and have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result, you may be able to make a personal injury compensation if you meet the necessary criteria, as outlined below:

  • When pursuing a claim for psychological injury or PTSD caused by witnessing a serious accident or near miss, the secondary victim needs to have a close affectionate tie to the primary victim. For example, if you are the parent, child, spouse, partner, or sibling of the primary victim you may be eligible to make a claim.
  • In order to pursue a claim, the secondary victim must have witnessed either the actual incident, or the immediate aftermath in person. A claim for psychological damage cannot be pursued if the secondary victim only heard about the incident afterwards and was not present at the time.

In many cases, the claim made by the secondary victim would be part of a chain of events, following on from the successful prosecution of a negligent third party by the primary victim. After this point, secondary victims can lodge a claim, but they would need to provide their own supporting evidence before it went to court.

Can I Make A Compensation Claim As A Witness?

If you have suffered adverse psychological effects after witnessing a serious crime or accident, you may be able to claim compensation if you can prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the psychological injury was directly caused by what you witnessed.

The first step would be to speak to your GP and begin the process of receiving a formal diagnosis of psychological injury or PTSD. The next step would be to seek legal advice, and the legal direction to be taken will depend on whether you witnessed a crime or an accident.

If you have witnessed an accident, or suffered a psychological injury in the line of duty, for example as a paramedic or firefighter attending the scene of the accident, the claims process is the same as for any type of personal injury.

If you have witnessed a violent crime which has caused your psychological injury or PTSD then your claim will most likely be taken to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The CICA was established by the Ministry of Justice specifically to handle compensation claims made by people who have been psychologically or physically injured as a result of witnessing a violent crime. Any compensation you receive will be paid to you by the CICA because, even if the police manage to detain the perpetrator of the crime, it is unlikely that said perpetrator will have access to the funds necessary to cover your compensation.

The process of claiming compensation through the CICA begins with an assessor considering your mental state, the seriousness of the crime, and your relationship to the victim. For example, if the victim is a relative or friend, it is usually considered more traumatic to see them be assaulted than it would be if you witnessed an attack on a stranger. If the CICA agrees with your claim, the compensation will be paid to you without the need for further court proceedings, with the minimum pay-out being set at £1,000.

Contact Us

If you, or a loved one, has suffered serious psychological injuries such as PTSD after an accident, please give our Personal Injury Lawyers a call for a confidential conversation about how we can help support you with a compensation claim. There is no commitment or charge for our initial assessment. Please contact a member of the team or complete our online enquiry form toward the top of this page on the right-hand side. We can also arrange a home or hospital visit when more convenient.

Lanyon Bowdler has offices in Shrewsbury, Bromyard, Hereford, Ludlow, Oswestry, Telford, and Conwy in North Wales.

We are one of the most recognised firms of solicitors in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Mid and North Wales, Birmingham and the Midlands, synonymous with excellence. We are able to offer a wide range of pricing options including fixed fees and service level guarantees.

As a leading national law firm, we regularly act for clients on Post-Traumtic Stress Disorder cases across the country. We can represent you wherever you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Testimonials

Good communication once the ball was rolling. It appeared that LB wanted to fight my case, not just because it was their job. Showed interest in my personal life and family. Very happy with the service.

- Mrs Kayleigh Griffiths, Telford

Very professional but also very relatable and approachable.

- Mrs Lynda Hylton, Hereford

Always clear, professional and helpful.

- Mrs S Horrobin, Wolverhampton

Impressed with the professionalism, accuracy and how you were easy to get in touch with. 

- Mr Cristian M Poputa, Hereford

Every member of staff was polite and helpful on all of my visits. The office was clean and comfortable. I felt cared about and my anxieties were dealt with in a very professional way. 

- Mrs Deltora Malone, Telford

Fantastic service, above and beyond expectations. Everyone I spoke to was lovely. Would recommend.

- Mrs Deborah Ann Hughes, Oswestry

Clear, concise and easy to understand.

- Mr Martin Brian Liversidge

Easy to talk to, friendly and easy to understand. Warm office! Honest about timescales to resolve issue.

- Miss Kiran Chahal, Telford

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