psychiatric injury

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A recognized psychiatric illness (such as post-traumatic stress disorder) that is caused by sudden shock, as distinct from normal grief, sorrow, or anxiety. There is no general duty of care for psychiatric injury. A distinction is made between primary victims and secondary victims (Page v Smith [1995] AC 155 (HL). A primary victim is someone within the range of foreseeable physical injury, typically a participant in the accident; damages are recoverable for psychiatric injury as for physical injury, even if no physical injury has occurred. Secondary victims are those outside the range of foreseeable physical injury, such as witnesses or relatives of the accident victims. For these victims the duty of care is strictly limited and control factors of proximity apply (Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police [1994] 1 AC 310 (HL). Psychiatric injury was formerly known as nervous shock.

Subjects: Law.

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