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Psychiatric Injuries and Vulnerable Patients Negligence Claims


Psychiatric injuries can follow on from a physical injury; for example, acute depression following surgery that has gone wrong or as a response to an external traumatic event, such as witnessing the sudden and expected death of a loved one.

When a psychiatric injury flows from a physical injury, the law is relatively straightforward. If you have suffered a particular injury as a result of negligent care or treatment, and as a consequence of the physical injury suffer a psychiatric injury, you will be able to claim an additional amount of compensation for any psychiatric injury, provided there is appropriate evidence to support your claim.

Where a psychiatric injury results from an external event, the law is more complex and in these types of cases the law classifies the claim into two categories: primary and secondary victims. A primary victim will almost always have a valid claim. These can include:

  • Failure to recognise any symptoms that appear related to mental health issues and no further investigations are taken
  • Misdiagnosis of mental health and psychological problems, such as diagnosing as a different illness
  • Delayed diagnosis of mental health issues
  • Failure to act on results of investigations and allowing the patient’s condition to worsen due to lack of treatment
  • Incorrect medication as a result of misdiagnosis or absent medication due to lack of diagnosis
  • Handling mental patients mental state incorrectly during hospital admittance and when being discharged
  • Failure to properly supervise patients with mental health issues whilst in society

A secondary victim will only be able to bring a claim provided that the following three conditions are satisfied:

  1. There is/was a close tie of love and affection between the secondary victim and the physically injured person.
  2. The secondary victim was present at the accident or the immediate aftermath.
  3. The secondary victim directly perceived (saw it for themselves) as opposed to watching on television or hearing about it from someone else. A claim was recently borne in respect of a claimant who very tragically experienced the sudden and unexpected death of a 14 year old child in hospital. The claim was settled for the sum of £60,000.


Claims can be brought by the spouse or dependants of persons who commit suicide whilst in psychiatric care if it can be shown that the staff failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent the person from taking his/her own life.


Vulnerable and elderly persons are entirely dependent on those looking after them whether in their own homes or institutions ensure their safety and well-being. Failings and care can lead to, amongst other things:

  • Pressure sores
  • Medication errors which might have minor or major consequences
  • Injuries and fractures from falls or poor handling techniques

For these people, compensation can significantly improve their quality of life as it can provide much needed funds to aid a change of institution and private medical treatment if needed.

Our highly experienced team of specialist clinical negligence lawyers are here to assist and to advise. They will advise you comprehensively about the merits of your claim, funding and ensure that you and your family get the best possible results.

The majority of our cases are funded by way of a conditional fee agreement, more commonly known as a no win no fee agreement. This means there is no financial risk to you.


  • In a recent case we obtained damages for the sum of £80,000 for a Claimant who had suffered a psychiatric injury after finding out that he had contracted hepatitis C some 15 years earlier and had not been told. There was a claim in respect of the actual contraction of the hepatitis C.
  • Compensation of £65,000 was recently obtained for the widow of a young man who succeeding in committing suicide whilst (following a voluntary admission) in a Crisis Centre.

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors are backed by four decades of experience. Our legal practice and team of London Solicitors have a strong track record of achieving favourable client outcomes. For expert legal advice use our contact form or call us on 0800 437 0322 today.

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