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The Shock of Seeing a Loved One Seriously Injured or Killed

I commented briefly, in an earlier blog post,  about fatal accident claims brought by family members, where a loved one has been tragically killed in an accident, and claims in particular where the remaining family members were financially dependent on the person who was killed.  In this blog I want to talk about nervous shock claims.

It is far from usual given the world that we live in, i.e. the availability to contact each other at short notice by mobile phone or email, for the family members to arrive at the scene of an accident or at the hospital where a husband or father, mother or sister has been involved in an accident and seriously injured or killed.  Although hospital staff do their best to ensure that family members are informed at all times and try to lessen the blow that the accident has had upon family members, the immediate wish is of course to see the person who has been injured which is an entirely natural reaction.

Unfortunately due to the severity of some accidents those injured can be in a very tragic and dramatic state.  

They are likely still to have the after effects of the accident clearly visible upon them.  They may be significantly bruised and likely to have tubes and lines already applied by nursing staff.  

There are various rules that allow a family member who has come across such situations and subsequently suffers a psychiatric reaction or injury as a result, to bring a claim against the third party who caused the accident.  These rules have been now set down by the Court as hard and fast rules.

The Court requires that there is a relationship of love and affection between the injured person and the family member who has suffered a psychiatric reaction as is invariably the case between spouses, partners, children and parents.

The Court also requires the person suffering the psychiatric injury to come across their loved one soon after the accident and therefore expects this to have occurred within the first few hours after the accident and also to have seen their loved one first hand.  

By this I mean that arriving at the scene of the accident the person injured has been treated by paramedics and is in a very poor state and the family member who comes to the scene of the accident then sees this rather than hears about the accident (on the radio or sees at a later date by television or in some cases does not actually see their loved one until some hours later having been informed of the accident by telephone) this will go some way towards satisfying the tests.  

These claims are never easy however the tragic effects of the accident can be long lasting and felt not only by the person who was injured but also by family members who have also to bear the burden.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.