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Nervous Shock and Pure Mental Harm

Pure Mental Harm Injuries following witnessing a serious accident or being a family member of a person who was killed or put in peril by another’s negligence

What are pure mental harm injuries?

Cases for pure mental harm, sometimes called nervous shock cases, arise in response to another person being hurt or killed as a result of another’s negligence.

Can you claim if you witness a serious accident?

If you witness a serious accident and you develop a mental harm injury – for example – post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, an adjustment disorder or any other type of psychiatric disorder, you will be able to make a claim for your own mental harm injuries that you developed as a result of witnessing a person being killed or seriously injured.

Can you claim if your family member was killed or hurt even if you did not see the event?

Some family members, within a defined class, can claim for their mental harm injuries even if they did not witness the actual event.  It is enough that they were a relative and that they developed a psychiatric disorder as a result of the harm that happened to their relative.

How do I claim if I witnessed an accident or if my close relative was harmed or killed in an accident or as a result of negligence?

This will depend on the type of event which caused the injury of the death of the person.  For example:

If Claire witnessed the childbirth of her friend, where there were significant complications as a result of the hospital’s negligence.  If  Claire was left with a psychiatric disorder as a result of witnessing those events.  She would make a medical negligence claim for her mental harm injuries.

If Roger witnessed a child being run over by a car and he developed a psychiatric disorder as a result.  He would make a claim for his personal injuries through the CTP scheme in NSW.

If Sarah received a telephone call that her father had fallen into a hole and had suffered severe injuries as a result of his accident.  Sarah would be able to claim for any psychiatric injuries that developed if the fall was as a result of negligence.

Do time limits apply?

In NSW time limits do apply to personal injury actions. It is typically three years from the date of injury. However, principles of discoverability often apply.

However, for CTP – car accident claims – the time limits are tighter and you typically need to apply within three months of the date of accident.  It is not fatal if you are late, you will need to give an explanation and it is best to seek legal advice.

It is important to promptly seek legal advice, even if you are outside the three years, as it is often possible to still bring a claim, provided you are within twelve years from the date of injury. These principles can be complex and the earlier you seek legal advice the better, so you are not precluded from bringing a claim.



Next Steps

At Remedy Law Group we offer an no win no fee service, our first consultation is free and without obligation, we do not charge an investigation fee. We offer expert legal advice from a NSW Law Society’s personal injury accredited specialist.

Get in touch with our friendly, experienced team.  We have offices in Erina on the Central Coast and in the CBD in Sydney.

Jane Bulter – Remedy Law Group