How To Claim For Anxiety Due To A Data Breach

Anxiety due to a data breach can have long-lasting effects on your life. When your personal data is exposed because of a security incident, this could trigger a variety of mental health issues. For example, following a personal data breach, you may suffer from disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety because you fear that the breach could happen again.

claiming for anxiety due to a data breach

Claiming for anxiety due to a data breach guide

In this article, we will explain what a personal data breach is, how it might affect your and your mental health, and how you could make a claim for compensation. We will also look at how much your claim can be worth. 

Our friendly advisors are available seven days a week, can offer free legal advice and may be able to put you in contact with an expert data protection solicitor from our panel provided that you have a valid claim. Get in touch by:

Select A Section

  1. What Is Anxiety Due To A Data Breach?
  2. Types Of Psychological Injury You Could Claim For
  3. How Does A Data Breach Affect Me?
  4. What Should You Do If You Suffered Anxiety Due To A Data Breach?
  5. Calculating Compensation For Anxiety Due To A Data Breach
  6. Make A Claim For Damages Today

What Is Anxiety Due To A Data Breach?

A personal data breach is a security incident in which the integrity, confidentiality, or availability of your personal data is affected. The UK General Data Protection Regulations (UK GDPR) works alongside an updated version of the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) to legally protect your personal data, meaning an entity processing your data must have a lawful basis to do so. Personal data can include any data that could be used to identify you, including your:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can give you more information on the other key data protection principles laid out in the UK GDPR. When a data breach occurs, the ICO may open an official investigation or impose a fine on the organisation at fault. However, the ICO cannot award you compensation.  

When Could You Claim?

You may be able to make a claim for compensation following a personal data breach if you can prove that your data was wrongfully exposed and that you suffered harm as a result. For example, you may suffer emotional distress such as anxiety due to a data breach that exposed your address online. In this case, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

Contact our advisors today to find out if you have a valid claim for data breach compensation.

Types Of Psychological Injury You Could Claim For

Due to the nature of personal data, you may experience serious psychological damage following a breach. Some examples of psychological injuries you may be able to claim compensation for include:

  • Anxiety: For example, following an HMRC data breach, your financial details may be exposed. This could cause significant anxiety, especially if strangers may have unauthorised access to your bank account or other financial records.
  • Depression: Following a police force data breach, any previous convictions you may have or other personal information may be exposed. In this case, you may face severe depression as a result of others having access to this information.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A personal data breach may also cause PTSD. For example, if your current address is exposed in a social services data breach, you may feel unsafe or endangered, which could in turn trigger PTSD.

For more information on how you could make a claim for anxiety due to a data breach, contact our team of advisors today. 

How Does A Data Breach Affect Me?

There are multiple ways a personal data breach could affect your life, but not all data breaches can form the basis of a successful claim. To make a data breach claim, you must be able to prove that your data was breached as a result of wrongful conduct and that this caused you harm.

Some examples of how misconduct could contribute to a data breach include:

  • Human error: For example, if someone accessing personal data on their computer left their desk while their screen was still displaying the data, this could give unauthorised people access. An example of this could include credit card details, which someone could take a photograph and use to impersonate you online.
  • Stolen or lost devices: An example of this could be if a hard drive containing personal data such as your name and address was lost. In this case, whoever found this information may have access to your personal data which they can then use for their own gain. 
  • Cybercrime: Whoever is storing your data has a legal obligation to ensure that all of their security protocols are adequate. If a hacker or cybercriminal steals your data as a result of sub-par security systems, you may be able to claim compensation. However, it’s important to note that if the organisation did all that they could to protect your data and a breach happened anyway, you would not be able to claim. 

Our advisors can help you start your claim for anxiety due to a data breach. Get in touch today to find out more.

What Should You Do If You Suffered Anxiety Due To A Data Breach?

It can be difficult to know what to do and how to deal with a data breach when your personal information is exposed. Some of the steps you can take following a data breach to help strengthen your case include:

  • Confirm the breach: Generally, if your personal information has been compromised, the organisation in control of your data will reach out and tell you what happened. They should do this without undue delay if a breach has threatened the rights and freedoms of the data subject. However, if this doesn’t happen, you can request the information from them yourself.
  • Contact the ICO: The ICO cannot provide compensation, but it may open an official investigation into the breach. This can help determine if the breach happened as a result of wrongful conduct. 
  • Collect evidence: This can include correspondence from the organisation at fault, proof that your data was exposed, or medical records stating the extent of your anxiety due to a data breach could all be used to support your claim.
  • Get free legal advice: Our advisors can provide free legal advice and further guidance surrounding your claim. If your claim is valid, they may put you in contact with our panel of expert solicitors.

Calculating Compensation For Anxiety Due To A Data Breach

There are two types of damages you could pursue following a data breach: material damages, and non-material damages. Material damages cover the financial losses you may have suffered as a result of the breach– for example, if someone gained access to your credit card details, and used this to access your bank account, then you could lose money as a result. 

Non-material damages cover the psychological effect the breach may have had on you. For example, if you suffer anxiety and PTSD following your address being exposed online, this could be included in this head of a claim. The Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) provide guideline compensation brackets for a range of mental illnesses, as illustrated in the table below.

DisorderCompensation BracketNotes
Psychiatric Damage (Severe)£51,460 to £108,620Severe effects on or inability to cope with education, life and work.
Psychiatric Damage (Moderately Severe)£17,900 to £51,460Difficulties coping with various areas of life, but with some response treatment and better prognosis.
Psychiatric Damage (Moderate)£5,500 to £17,900Response to professional treatment and a good prognosis.
Psychiatric Damage (Less Severe)£1,440 to £5,500Consideration given to the length of symptoms and level of disability.
Severe PTSD£56,180 to £94,470Little to no ability to function at the pre-trauma level.
Moderately Severe PTSD£21,730 to £56,180Cases with some chance of recovery with professional help.
Moderate PTSD£7,680 to £21,730Cases of recovery, with few to no ongoing disabling effects.
Less Severe PTSD£3,710 to £7,680Minor persisting symptoms and recovery within two years.

Following the Court of Appeals case Vidal-Hall and Others v Google Inc.(2015), you can now claim for psychological damage without suffering any financial losses. For a free valuation of your claim, contact our advisors today.

Make A Claim For Damages Today

Our panel of solicitors office their services on a No Win No Fee basis, which means if your claim is valid, they may offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This means that you will pay no upfront or ongoing fees to your solicitor. If you’re awarded compensation, your solicitor will take a success fee from your compensation award. However, if your claim fails, you will not pay anything to your solicitor. 

To learn more about how our panel of data breach solicitors can help you, get in touch with our team of friendly advisors. They can offer free legal advice and will tell you if your claim is valid. Contact us today by:

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Article by AA

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