Have you witnessed serious injury or death due to an accident?  Or heard about a loved one’s serious injury in a serious accident?

While we hope neither happens to you – it can have very serious impacts on your mental wellbeing.

What is Nervous Shock?

When you witness a serious accident, whether it falls into the realm of a car accident, work accident, stressful medical negligence scenario or recreational activities, it can be highly distressing.  If it is a close family member who is injured, witnessing them be injured or even the aftermath can result in your own mental health deteriorating.  These circumstances can result in a negative impact on one’s life, from an inability to return to work, to struggles engaging in usual day-to-day practices.  In these situations, a claim for ‘nervous shock’ may arise.

Type of Circumstances

Examples of circumstances where nervous shock can arise can include:

  • witnessing the accident;
  • arriving at the scene of the accident; and
  • learning or hearing about the accident afterwards.

A known example of a nervous shock claim would include if you were travelling in a motor vehicle behind a loved one and witnessed them be injured at the fault of another driver.  In Queensland, the legislation does not mandate you must view the scene, however, a claim is largely dependent on your proximity to the accident and to its aftermath.  This includes the closeness of the relationship you hold with the victim.

Another element is whether the harm you have sustained transcends the common feelings of grief, sadness and emotional distress.  Liability in negligence requires that the harmed person suffer a recognised psychiatric illness.  Such an illness can include depression, anxiety, an adjustment disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  A Claimant’s psychiatric illness does not have to be connected with their own physical harm in the accident.

Unlike a more usual personal injury claim where there is a physical injury assessed, psychiatric illness in the form the law recognises requires special proof.  To be successful in a claim for nervous shock, you must demonstrate the Defendant (i.e., the person responsible for the victim’s accident) breached a known duty of care owed to you, and as a result of that breach, you suffered requisite personal injury, loss and damage.  A connection between your psychiatric injury and the negligent act is needed.

Recovering Compensation

It is well understood that a psychiatric illness can be severe.  If so, a Claimant may be entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering, out-of-pocket expenses, loss of income and care and assistance provided.

Each claim is assessed on its merits, circumstances and the unique relationship with the third party.

A claim for nervous shock can be a difficult benchmark to establish.  Strict time limits apply.  Hence, it is crucial to take prompt action and contact our lawyers as soon as possible.

Get in touch with us

At Turner Freeman, we have specialist personal injury lawyers who will assess your case and provide personalised advice regarding your legal entitlements. Our lawyers are located across Queensland including offices in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, North Lakes, Logan and Ipswich. Contact us today on 13 43 63.