EVALUATING PSYCHIATRIC HARM
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Evaluating Pshciatric harm Psychiatric harm is a recognised psychiatric illness, resulting from an incident and it must have long term effects. Mere grief, fright and sorrow are insuffiecient. Historically the law did not extend to claims brought purely in respect of psychiatric harm. This was due to it being difficult to diagnose, and may lead to victims faking the illness and bring ficticious claims. There was also the fear of opening the floodgates - if too many people could fake the illness, then there would be no end of claims in the tort. In white v cc of south Yorkshire, Lord Steyn commented that the law on psychiatric harm is a patchwork quilt of distinctions which are hard to justify. The mechanisms developed by the judiciary to prevent the number of potential claims in psychiatric harm result in injustice. The first problem that lies with it is the inconsistent development. The law on psychiatric harm has developed drastically over the past 100 years, with the knowledge of illnesses like it uncommon at the turn of the 20th century, and at the end of the 20th century they are commonly known to exist.
Why do brothers and sisters have to prove close ties of love and affection, when then spend about one fifth of their lives living together, so how much closer do they have to be to prove the close ties of love and affection, when proving it between parents and children who also live together isn't actually necessary? Even lord Alcock commented that close ties may be stronger in an engaged couple than between husbands and wifes. By having the close ties requirement, this lead to extra burden being placed upon those who have to prove it exists between themselves and the primary victim. This makes the court hearing more traumatic for the claimant. It is questionable whether subjecting the personal lives and relationships of claimants to detailed scruting can be justified, at a time when even if their claims are true they are emotionally weak and vunerable. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the scope of the immediate aftermath test. In Mcloughlin v O brian, it was decided that the aftermath of the accident extends to the hospital to which the injured person was taken and persisted for so long as he remained in the state produced by the accident up to receiving post traumatic treatment.
had close ties of love and affection with the primary victim, they will have no claim as they will be classed as a secondary victim. However, this contradicts the original catorgory of rescuers, which saw them as a separate catorgory as in Chadwick, and if they had risked there own life for the safety of others they would receive compensation if they suffered psychiatric harm as a result. The law commission recommends that the requirement that psychiatric illness be induced by shock should not longer apply, the requirement of closeness to the accident in time and space or immediate aftermath in respect of those whose suffer psychiatric injury as a result of harm being caused to those who the claimant has close ties need no longer apply, and the catorgories of people that are deemed to have close ties should be extended to the victims spouse, parent, child, brother or sister. However, what must be taken in to consideration is that to prevent the floodgates being opened to far, that the changes should not be so drastic that the amount of claims or the duty of care becomes so wide that the floodgates will been too big like when the Anns test was being used in the 1980's.
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