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Supreme Court decision on psychiatric injury in clinical negligence cases: Implications and expectations

Supreme Court decision on psychiatric injury in clinical negligence cases: Implications and expectations


The Supreme Court's upcoming ruling may allow claims for psychiatric injury from clinical negligence

The upcoming judgment from the Supreme Court will profoundly impact the landscape of clinical negligence cases, particularly concerning claims for psychiatric injury stemming from witnessing the death or distressing events involving close relatives due to earlier clinical negligence. The outcome could potentially redefine the scope and eligibility for claims and significantly affect bereaved families seeking justice.

Olivia Boschat, a Medical Negligence Solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp, highlights a crucial distinction between personal injury claims and medical negligence claims. Unlike immediate injury occurrences in personal injury claims, medical negligence cases often involve a substantial time gap between the negligent act and the manifestation of injury. For instance, a missed heart condition might result in a fatal heart attack months or years later. This delay presents complexities in attributing the resulting injury to the initial negligence.

The impending Supreme Court rulings will determine the admissibility of claims for family members who have suffered psychiatric injury due to witnessing a horrifying death or distressing event resulting from medical negligence, even if the initial mistake occurred long ago. Boschat emphasizes the artificiality of denying compensation to those traumatized by avoidable events merely because of the time lapse between the negligence and the distressing incident.

This decision holds significant weight for numerous clients currently awaiting the judgment's outcome, as it will dictate their ability to bring claims and access crucial psychiatric treatments vital for their recovery. The absence of this guidance prolongs uncertainty and denies claimants the opportunity to seek rightful redress.

Ultimately, this landmark decision is eagerly anticipated, as it stands to shape the legal framework surrounding psychiatric injury claims in medical negligence cases, providing much-needed clarity and justice for affected individuals and their families.