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Psychiatric Illness Essay

1186 words - 5 pages

Psychiatric injury was defined as “a sudden assault on the nervous system” or “a sudden appreciation of a horrifying event, which violently agitates the mind”. Psychiatric illness includes all forms of mental illness, neurosis and personality change that are medically recognised. This must be differentiated from severe fear or emotional distress, grief , or sorrow which by themselves do not give rise to liability except where the fear , distress ,grief or sorrow lead to either a physical illness such as anxiety neurosis or reactive depression. Psychiatric illness may occur either as a result of deliberate act which is intentional in future or from negligence. If the act is done ...view middle of the document...

This game was televised and heard over the radio. The game came to a halt to everyone’s surprise because the press of people in the Leppings Lane pens had created such intense pressure that some spectators were becoming trapped. They were unable to move voluntarily in any direction, and were losing the ability to breathe. Spectators in Pens 3 and 4 were receiving crushing injuries from the forces being exerted on their bodies. From such injuries, 95 spectators were killed and over 400 injured. Psychiatric illness and causation were assumed for the purposes of the hearing, which centered on the scope for recovery when the plaintiff was neither a parent nor spouse of the primary victim, and on whether a means of communication other than direct, unaided perception could ground a claim.
The House of Lords held that a claim for nervous shock may succeed if firstly, it is reasonably foreseeable that the plaintiff will sustain psychiatric illness due to his close relationship of love and affection with the primary victim , and there is physical proximity between the plaintiff and the victim in terms of time and space .The nature of the relationship between the plaintiff and the victim is also an important factor .
In the present case , the House restricted the categories of plaintiffs who could make a claim for psychiatric illness. The House made a distinction between a primary and secondary victims. A primary victim was defined to be a person who participates or is directly involved in an accident. A secondary victim is one who is a passive and unwilling witness of injury caused to the others. If a person is a secondary victim they will have to prove close ties of love and affection with the primary victim to succeed in their claim. Hence , the court held that one of the plaintiffs had failed to prove that he did enjoy a close emotional tie with his two deceased brothers , and his claim was therefore denied .
The court further held that the shock must be caused by actual sight or sound of the accident or its immediate aftermath. The House limited the aftermath doctrine to the immediate aftermath. It did not include identification of the body of the victim at the mortuary. Both mothers in McLoughlin and Jaensch succeeded because the shock they suffered was fairly contemporaneous. Two hours elapsed from the time of the accident when the plaintiff suffered shock as a result of learning the death of a loved one in McLoughlin and nine days elapsed in Jaensch. In the Hillsborough disaster, eight hours had elapsed after identifying the bodies at the mortuary....

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