Can I Sue Social Services For Distress After A Data Breach?

By Max Morris. Last Updated 20th June 2022. This is an article on the question of “can I sue social services for distress?”. The topic of this guide focuses on whether or not you can claim for the psychological effects that you could suffer as a result of your data being exposed.

Whilst you may be aware that you can be awarded compensation for monetary losses, you may not be aware of your eligibility to claim compensation if your mental health has suffered as a result. We will look at this in closer detail over the course of this article.

Can I sue social services for distress?

Can I sue social services for distress guide

We’ll also give you certain example scenarios in which social services could be responsible for breaching your personal data. This should help you gain a better understanding of your rights if you experience harm because of a data breach.

If you have any questions, then feel free to get in touch with our advisors. We are here 24/7 to assist you with any issues you may have. We could tell you whether or not you may have a valid claim once we know more about your circumstances.

Then, we could connect you with an expert personal injury solicitor to help you with your claim. Read on for more information, including our contact information.

Select A Section

  1. What Is A Social Services Data Breach?
  2. How Social Services Could Breach Your Data Privacy
  3. Examples Of Social Services Data Breaches
  4. Can I Sue Social Services For Distress Caused By The Breach?
  5. How Much Can I Sue Social Services For Distress After A Data Breach?
  6. Start Your Social Services Data Breach Claim

What Is A Social Services Data Breach?

It’s important to know what can constitute a breach of your personal information. In short, a data breach is when personal data is unlawfully accessed, disclosed, altered, lost, or destroyed. There can be a few different ways in which a data breach can occur

For example, a data breach might happen as the result of a cyberattack where your information is purposefully stolen. Another potential cause of a data breach is human error.

To give an example, whilst social services may have your correct mailing address on file, the wrong one could end up being written on the envelope. If this correspondence contains personal information, then this could be accessed by someone without authorisation. 

Someone else accessing your personal information could cause you distress or result in anxiety or depression. If this is the case, then you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

How Social Services Could Breach Your Data Privacy?

In order to answer the question, “can I sue social services for distress after a data breach?”, it can help to know some more example scenarios that could result in a data breach. We have included some of these below:

Poor Administrative Practises

If an organisation holds your personal data, they have a responsibility to secure it. This is the case whether it is physically stored or digitally stored personal data.

For example, your personal data could be stored in a filing cabinet. This should be secured in some way, for example, by being locked. If someone failed to lock the cabinet after retrieving a file, this could allow an unauthorised party to access this personal data.

However, this doesn’t just apply to physically stored personal data; it could also apply to personal data that is stored digitally, too. For example, your personal data might be stored on a memory stick that is not password protected. If this memory stick was misplaced, it could allow someone unauthorised access to your personal data.

Misdelivery Of Data

As we’ve mentioned a few times in this article, there can be a few ways this can happen. For example, you might have updated your phone number, address or email address with an organisation, but they failed to action this. As a result, your personal data could be sent to someone who doesn’t have the authorisation to see it. 

If you would like to discuss the question “can I sue social services for distress” at greater length, speak with a member of our team today. You could be connected with a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel provided you have a valid claim.

Examples Of Social Services Data Breaches

Organisations of all sizes can be responsible for a data breach. As such, they can also be punished as a result. The independent executive agency for the UK that is responsible for these punitive measures is called the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO issues fines to organisations that breach people’s data in the UK, in accordance with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR). This is the piece of legislation that, alongside an updated version of the Data Protection Act 2018, is the regime that outlines how personal data should be protected. This is a ratification of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which is the data protection legislation covering Europe. 

A social worker data breach could occur if, for example, a social worker had your personal details on file and then left their device on public transport that was not password protected, this could result in your personal data being accessed by someone who isn’t authorised to see it.

If you’re wondering, “can I sue social services for distress?” our advisors might be able to help. Get in touch for more information.

Can I Sue Social Services For Distress Caused By The Breach?

It’s important to determine whether you’re entitled to claim after your personal data has been exposed. This is because a data breach can occur, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be eligible to make a claim.

There are 2 main criteria that must be met in order for you to be able to claim:

  • Was there wrongful conduct on the part of the data controller? – You can only claim compensation if the breach was caused by the failings of the entity processing your data. If they did everything they could to stop a breach from happening, and one occurred anyway, you’d be unlikely to be able to claim.
  • Was there harm caused? – You cannot claim just because a data breach has occurred. In order to claim, you need to prove that a breach caused you material and/or non-material damage.

If you are wondering, “how much can I sue social services for distress after a data breach?” please read on. Or, if you have any further questions, speak with a member of our team today.

Tips on How to Sue Social Services for Distress after a Data Breach

To successfully receive data breach compensation, you need to provide evidence of the data controller’s or data processor’s failings when handling your personal data. Furthermore, you would also need evidence showing that you’ve either suffered financially or psychologically as a result of the personal data breach.

Usually, social services are run by local councils. As such, due to the breach of your personal data, you may be wanting to sue the council for emotional distress. Evidence that could be useful includes:

  • Correspondence between you and the council or social services department. This could help highlight when you were informed of the data breach, if indeed they did inform you. Remember, when you’re notified of the data breach, they also need to make you aware of the information that has been breached and how the breach occurred.
  • Receipts, invoices and bank statements. If you’re claiming due to the financial losses suffered by the breach, financial evidence such as this can be used to validate the amount of losses you’ve suffered.
  • Medical reports. If you’re claiming for severe psychological damage caused by the breach, an independent medical assessment may need to be conducted as part of the data breach compensation claims procedure. This assessment is performed by a medical professional and can be used to determine the nature of your injuries.
  • Notes from your psychologist if you’re in therapy. These can also be used to highlight the pain and suffering caused by the data breach. For example, you may be wanting to sue the council for emotional distress because of the anxiety and depression caused by the exposing of your personal data.

This list is not exhaustive so, if you have any questions about potential evidence you could use, please contact us for free legal advice using the above details.

How Much Can I Sue Social Services For Distress After A Data Breach?

You may be wondering, “can I sue social services for distress after a data breach?” The two criteria that the data breach would need to meet for you to potentially claim are:

  • The data breach must have occurred because of the action or inaction of a third party surrounding your personal data. For example, if your personal data gets hacked because social services do not have sufficient cybersecurity, you may be able to claim.
  • Secondly, the breach must have led to you suffering either material (financial) losses or non-material (psychological) damages. Material damages relating to the data breach could include loss of earnings. Non-material damages could include PTSD, anxiety and depression.

Due to the Court of Appeal case of Google Inc vs Vidal-Hall and Others, you are now able to claim non-material losses from a data breach without experiencing material losses. Furthermore, due to the ruling of Gulati and Others vs MGN Ltd 2015, non-material losses in these cases are now judged the same way as they are in personal injury claims.

You may want more information about what you could receive if you sue for emotional distress in the UK. Through the Judicial College Guidelines, we can give you an idea of what you could receive from personal injury claims in England and Wales.

These figures have been taken from the latest guidelines available, published in 2022. However, these figures are not guaranteed as there are many aspects to a claim that can influence what you receive.

Awarded ForDescriptionAmount
PTSD(a) Severe - permanent effects that will badly affect the victim’s work ability and other things£59,860 to £100,670
PTSD(b) Moderately severe - symptoms will have been worse, but there is a good prognosis£23,150 to £59,860
PTSD(c) Moderate - a good recovery, with any lasting damage not being too severe£8,180 to £23,150
PTSD(d) Less severe - an almost full recovery will have been made within 2 years£3,950 to £8,180
General psychological damage(a) Severe - prognosis will be very poor£54,830 to £115,730
General psychological damage(b) Moderately severe - issues will have been more severe, but with a greater cause for optimism£19,070 to £54,830
General psychological damage(c) Moderate - some problems will have been present, but a good recovery is expected£5,860 to £19,070
General psychological damage(d) Less severe - the length of the disability will be a factor, as well as the extent of the effect on the victim’s daily activities£1,540 to £5,860

If you would like, we can connect you to someone from our panel of solicitors that can sue social services if you have sufficient evidence. For any further queries or free legal advice, please get in touch using the above details or continue reading to learn more.

Start Your Social Services Data Breach Claim

Our advisors can help you answer the question of “can I sue social services for distress?”. Get in touch today and we can help you get the process started of clearing up your eligibility to receive compensation. 

We could connect you with an expert solicitor who may work with you on a No Win No Fee basis. 

What Are No Win No Fee Agreements?

All of the lawyers on our panel operate on a No Win No Fee basis. What this means is that you don’t have to pay them anything if your claim is unsuccessful, or at the beginning of the claim. They also won’t ask you to pay anything as the claim progresses. 

You are only required to cover their costs if they successfully assist you in winning your claim. This is done by them taking a small percentage of your settlement amount before it reaches you.

Talk to us today if you want to find out if you could make a No Win No Fee claim.

Social Services Data Breach FAQ’s

Can I sue social services for distress and other types of damage?

Yes, you can sue social services for distress and potentially other damages too. As well as the figure that’s awarded for your psychological distress (which is known as non-material damages), you may also be eligible to receive material damages too. This figure can account for any financial losses caused by the personal data breach or your related psychological injury.

To give an example, your mental health may be affected to the point of making it difficult or impossible to return to work. Regardless of whether this is a permanent or temporary scenario, the losses you experience over this time can be calculated and awarded to you as part of a material damages payment.

There can be other costs that may be possible to reclaim through material damages payments. If you’d like to know about what else could be included, and how you can prove they occurred, get in touch with our advisors today.

Where can I find solicitors that sue social services?

The location of a law firm should not determine who you choose to assist you in your claim. You can now work with a solicitor without ever meeting face to face. Our panel of experienced lawyers routinely work with clients across the country.

The solicitors on our panel have assisted with many claims against social services in the past. Therefore, they could also help you if you have a valid claim.

Our Guides And Trusted Resources

Follow the links below for more information on this topic.

  1. Our guide on claims relating to the wrong email address.
  2. Data breaches can also occur due to a wrong postal address.
  3. Another of our articles on data breach compensation, generally.
  4. An overview of clinical depression from the NHS.
  5. More information from the NHS on generalised anxiety disorder.
  6. In some scenarios, you can appoint a litigation friend to claim on your behalf.

Thank you for reading our article on the question “can I sue social services for distress?

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Publisher ET