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Beyond the injured… compensation for secondary victims

Posted on 7th July 2016
Catherine Henry Lawyers
Catherine Henry Lawyers

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Secondary compensation

Often it is not only the victim of medical negligence who suffers as the result of injury or death. Compensation is available in New South Wales for secondary victims such as close family members and witnesses. We look at the avenues for recovery of compensation below.

Psychological Injury

A claim may be brought for ‘pure mental harm’ or ‘nervous shock’ if it can be established that a person has suffered a recognised psychiatric injury as a result of witnessing the injury or who is a close family member (such as a parent, spouse, child or sibling) of the injured person. An example of such a claim is where a parent witnessed their child’s injury or death as a result of the negligence of another person and developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We often see clients whose family members have been seriously affected as a result of the distressing nature of the client’s injury. In order to claim compensation for pure mental harm cases is must be shown that the recognised psychiatric injury was foreseeable.

Dependency Claims

In circumstances where a family member has died as a result of negligence, his or her estate may bring a claim under the Compensation to Relatives Act 1897 (NSW) and Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1944 (NSW) generally on behalf of a dependent spouse or child. Potential beneficiaries may also include the deceased’s brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister or parent.

A dependency claim may be brought in circumstances where a dependant expected to receive a financial benefit or a non-financial benefit from the deceased. An example is where a claim is made by the executor of an estate on behalf of the deceased’s children for the loss of financial benefit the children expected to receive from their deceased parent until each child reaches the age of 18. Another example is where a partner makes a claim for the loss of expected domestic assistance and/or childcare assistance (non-financial benefits).

We have a history of successfully pursuing pure mental harm and Compensation to Relatives matters at Catherine Henry Lawyers. Please do not hesitate to contact our firm on (02) 4929 3995 to discuss any potential claim.

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