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Psychiatric injury - evidence and impact.

View profile for Kim Daniells
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The current pandemic has created a perfect storm for those who suffer mental health difficulties. Just as awareness of mental health problems is increasing and those who are experiencing difficulties are being encouraged to seek support and treatment, the pandemic is leading to increased isolation and loneliness, and preventing many sufferers from accessing the treatment and face to face support that they need.


In these challenging times, when traditional routes to support might be difficult to access, the online resources offered by MIND and other charities are hugely valuable. For those in need of help and support, and who can seek assistance, those resources can help to provide essential guidance and information.


Nevertheless, there remain a significant number of individuals who experience mental health challenges but remain reluctant or unable to talk about their experiences, or to seek help.


Our experience in acting  for victims of serious injury is that even those who suffer injury and are willing to contemplate a claim for compensation as a consequence, are rarely willing to acknowledge at the outset that they might have suffered a psychological injury.


The reality is that traumatic experiences can cause serious psychiatric injury in the form of PTSD and other conditions. If not properly diagnosed and treated, those problems can blight not just the lives of those who have suffered injury, but also their loved ones.


Part of our role in acting for those who have suffered serious injury is to determine the type of medical evidence necessary to assess the nature and extent of all injuries suffered. In some cases we may suggest that our clients attend an assessment with a psychiatrist or psychologist in order to evaluate the impact of their experiences. The evidence gained as a consequence of those assessments often impacts very significantly upon the nature of the claim that we are bringing.


In two of our recent cases, individuals who suffered relatively short-lived physical injuries agreed to attend psychiatric assessments which both led to a diagnosis of PTSD and a recommendation for specialist intervention and treatment. In both cases claims that might have attracted awards of less than £10,000.00 for the physical injury were valued in excess of £40,000.00 once the psychiatric component was taken into account.


The increased award in these cases enabled our clients to fund private treatment in order to maximise their chances of a good recovery. In both cases, at the outset, the Claimants conceded that the incidents had significantly impacted upon their lives but were uncertain that there might be a psychiatric or psychological component to their injuries.


It is too early to know what impact the coronavirus pandemic will have upon mental health services. It is to be hoped that the increased profile of mental health issues will lead to improved funding for mental health services and ease of access for effective support and treatment. In the meantime, we will continue to carefully and sensitively explore these issues with our clients so that this key component of personal injury is properly investigated and addressed.