Claiming Compensation For Psychological Damage

By Lewis Houston. Last Updated 24th August 2023. This guide will explain how you could make a personal injury claim for psychological damage. If you’ve been in an accident caused by another’s negligence that has led to psychological damage, you could potentially claim compensation. 

personal injury claim for psychological damage

If you’re involved in an accident, it’s possible you could have suffered some form of physical injury. However, it’s also possible that the traumatic event of the accident has caused you some form of psychological damage, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or anxiety. Even if you haven’t suffered a physical injury, you could potentially still claim for just the psychological damage. 

Read on for more information about making a personal injury claim for psychological damages. Alternatively, get in touch with us today for free legal advice. Our experienced advisors can give you specific guidance and may even pass you on to a solicitor from our panel. 

We would also like to note that if you have suffered some psychological trauma, some sections of this article may be triggering. If you’d prefer to discuss a potential claim, feel free to make a direct call to our advisors about your situation rather than reading this article. They can give you sensitive and confidential guidance about the claims process. 

Select A Section

  1. What Is Psychological Damage?
  2. What Are The Symptoms Of Psychological Injuries?
  3. Can I Make A Psychological Injury Claim?
  4. Causes Of Psychological Injuries
  5. What Evidence Do You Need To Support Your Claim?
  6. How Is The Value Of Psychological Damage Compensation Calculated?
  7. Start Your Personal Injury Claim For Psychological Damage
  8. Learn More

What Is Psychological Damage?

Emotional and psychological trauma is often a consequence of incredibly stressful or traumatic events that can disrupt your sense of security. There could be side effects such as strong emotions, anxiety, numbness and trust issues. 

A traumatic experience could include anything that threatens your life or safety, such as car accidents or workplace accidents. But it could also be any situation that leaves you feeling isolated and overwhelmed. It is not necessarily the event itself that causes the psychological damage but your subjective experience of it. However, for this article, we will be focusing on psychological damage that has occurred as a result of some form of accident. 

To make a valid personal injury claim, you need to prove that someone breached their duty of care towards you. The duty of care that is owed to you depends on your environment, and it generally means that another party has to take all reasonably practicable steps to keep you from harm. 

For example, when you’re at work, employers owe a duty of care to all employees. When on the roads, all road users have an equal duty of care. When you’re in a public place, those in control of the area have a duty of care. 

If someone has breached their duty of care towards you, leading to an accident and psychological harm, you could potentially claim compensation from them. If you have questions about making a personal injury claim for psychological damage, get in touch. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Psychological Injuries? 

Different psychological issues could have a variety of symptoms. However, some common emotional symptoms could include:

  • Confusion & difficulty concentrating
  • Anger & mood swings
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Guilt, shame & self-blame
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Sadness or feeling hopeless
  • Emotional numbness or feeling disconnected

And some common physical symptoms could include:

  • Insomnia & nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Fidgeting & agitation
  • Aches and pains
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches, shaking & upset stomach

There could also be some symptoms that are emotional and physical, such as hyperarousal or anhedonia. Hyperarousal is defined as feeling ‘on edge’, which can be considered physical as it can potentially cause people to tense up. And anhedonia is defined as an inability to feel pleasure. This can be emotional pleasure, such as when spending time with friends, or physical pleasure, such as eating good food. 

However, trauma can be different for everyone. If you don’t see your symptoms here, it doesn’t mean you might be suffering any less, and you could potentially still make a claim.

If you’re concerned you might be suffering psychologically after an accident, we always recommend you seek medical help, as a professional can properly diagnose any issues you might be having.

However, if you have queries about making a personal injury claim for psychological damage, why not reach out to us?

Can I Make A Psychological Injury Claim?

If you seek compensation for a psychological injury, you will need to establish whether you have an eligible claim or not. To do so, you must determine the following:

  • Did somebody owe you a duty of care?
  • Did they breach that duty of care?
  • Have you suffered a psychological injury or harm as a result?

Additionally, to successfully claim for a psychological injury, you will need to provide proof of what occurred and how it affected you. If you can’t provide any evidence that negligence has occurred and you have been harmed, you may struggle to make a psychological injury claim.

A personal injury lawyer from our panel could help you gather evidence. Furthermore, they’ll be able to offer you a No Win No Fee contract in order to avoid you having to pay an upfront fee. We’ll explain this later on in the guide.

Should you wish to speak to our team, you can contact us at any time. We are on-call 24/7 to offer free, no-obligation legal guidance on personal injury claims.

What Is The Time Limit For Psychiatric Injury Claims?

When you are making a psychological injury claim, you must ensure that you start your claim within the correct time limit. Generally, you will have three years to start your claim from the date you suffered your injury.

In certain circumstances, there are exceptions to this time limit. These are:

  • If the injured party is a child. – The time limit for minors is paused until their 18th birthday. Before this point, a court-appointed litigation friend could make a claim on their behalf. If a claim has not already been made, they will have 3 years from their 18th birthday to start one.
  • If the injured party lacks the mental capacity to start their own claim. – The time limit is indefinitely suspended, and a litigation friend could make a claim on their behalf. In the event that they were to regain this mental capacity, they will have 3 years from this date to start a claim if one has not already been made.

Contact our advisors if you have any further questions about the time limits for psychiatric injury claims. They could also inform you whether you have enough time to start your specific claim.

Causes Of Psychological Injuries 

Psychological damage could have any number of causes. This section will look at a few of them in more detail. 

Current or Ex-Military

PTSD from the military can sometimes be referred to as combat stress. It can be linked to people fearing for their life, seeing others be hurt or killed or perhaps even a constant assault on emotional resilience.

Harmed by Medical Negligence

Different types of clinical negligence could lead to psychological harm. For example, a healthcare professional may give a low dose of anaesthesia through negligence, which then causes anaesthesia awareness. This is a rare complication where a patient regains some level of consciousness during a surgical procedure. The trauma of seeing yourself be operated on could result in long-lasting psychological issues.

Road Traffic Accidents

It is worth noting here that witnessing a road traffic accident could also cause trauma, even if you were not specifically injured. Also, there does not have to be an accident at all to experience trauma; a ‘near-miss’ could also cause feelings of danger and helplessness that cause psychological issues. 

Having a Near-Death Experience

If someone comes close to accidental death, this could cause helpless feelings to arise. Depending on how the near-death experience came about, psychological damage could be a consequence.

For example, if someone was involved in a terrorist attack, they could be seriously harmed. Related PTSD could mean the person feels anxiety or stress with loud noises or in certain spaces.

Alternatively, you may have suffered an accident at work (or anywhere) that caused mental anguish due to it being nearly fatal. In Great Britain, 142 workers suffered fatal injuries in 2020/21.

Victim of a Violent Attack

Again, it is important to note that witnessing a violent attack can also cause psychological damage. For this section, it is also worth mentioning that sexual assault survivors can often report struggling with PTSD after what happened to them. They could be anxious or stressed around people, or feel intense shame or guilt, despite it not being their fault. 

It may be similar for victims of violent assaults, where the sense of danger and helplessness can leave people feeling tense for years. Criminal attacks are dealt with through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), so the process may be slightly different to a general personal injury claim. 

However, this section is not exhaustive. If some other form of incident caused your mental illness, you could potentially still make a valid personal injury claim for psychological damage. Get in touch with our advisors today to find out more. 

What Evidence Do You Need To Support Your Claim?

If you’ve been involved in an accident, we first recommend that you seek medical help. This could be from your GP, calling 111 or 999 or potentially finding an emergency service near you. 

When you start thinking about making a claim, you could gather evidence that would help you. You don’t necessarily need a solicitor’s help to do so, but we recommend that you hire one, as they can help you figure out what evidence could give your case the best chance for success. This could include:

  • CCTV footage of the accident
  • Photographs of the accident or your injuries
  • Medical reports
  • The contact details of any witnesses so that a statement can be taken
  • Accident report records

You will also be invited to an independent medical appointment as part of the claims process. During this, a medical professional will assess your injuries and any long-term effects they may have on you. This will be key evidence for valuing your claim. 

How Is The Value Of Psychological Damage Compensation Calculated?

When making a psychological damage compensation claim, you could be awarded general damages and special damages.

General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering your psychological injury has caused you. When a legal professional is valuing this head of your claim, they may use the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) alongside other documents. The JCG provides compensation guidelines for various physical and psychological injuries. In the table below, we have used some of the amounts listed in the 16th edition of the JCG.

Please only use it as a guide.

Injury Severity Amount Notes
PTSD Severe £59,860 to £100,670 This bracket may include PTSD that has severe side-effects such as a difficulty to function as before the trauma.
PTSD Moderately Severe £23,150 to £59,860 This bracket may include PTSD that is similar to the above but has a better prognosis for recovery.
PTSD Moderate £8,180 to £23,150 This bracket may include PTSD that has largely been recovered from. Any lasting effects will not be considerably disabling.
PTSD Less Severe £3,950 to £8,180 This bracket may include PTSD cases where a practically full recovery has been made within 1-2 years. After this, only minor symptoms will persist.
Psychiatric Severe £54,830 to £115,730 This bracket may include psychiatric issues that result in a diminished capability to cope with life, including a negative effect on relationships. The prognosis will be poor for recovery and the chances of future treatments’ success will be low.
Psychiatric Moderately Severe £19,070 to £54,830 This bracket may include psychiatric issues similar to the previous bracket but with a more optimistic prognosis.
Psychiatric Moderate £5,860 to £19,070 This bracket may include psychiatric issues similar to above. However, there may be a marked improvement and a prognosis for continued progress.
Psychiatric Less Severe £1,540 to £5,860 This bracket will be judged upon the length of time the issues have occurred and how much daily activities and sleep were affected.

Your settlement may also include special damages. Special damages compensate you for the financial losses you have suffered due to your injury.

Examples of financial harm that you could be compensated for in a psychological injury claim include:

  • A loss of earnings – you may need time off work to cope with symptoms of your mental health injury. As a result, your earning capacity could suffer. Use a pay slip to prove a loss of earnings.
  • Care costs – your psychological damage may leave you unable to perform everyday tasks such as cooking or cleaning. If you require a carer, retain their invoices to prove this out-of-pocket expense.
  • Prescription fees – some mental health conditions, such as anxiety, could result in you relying on prescription medication. If you have to pay for this expense, keep hold of your prescription receipt as evidence.

If you have any questions about making a claim for a psychological injury, you can contact our friendly team of advisors.

Start Your Personal Injury Claim For Psychological Damage

If you’ve suffered an injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, one of the solicitors on our panel could potentially help you make a claim for psychological damage. However, you may be concerned about funding the services of a solicitor if you’re already struggling financially. 

If this is the case, a No Win No Fee agreement could benefit you. If a solicitor offers their services on a No Win No Fee basis, you will not be required to pay any upfront or ongoing solicitor’s costs. In fact, you won’t be obligated to pay your solicitor their fee at all if your claim is unsuccessful.

However, if your claim does succeed, your solicitor will deduct a success fee from your compensation amount. Your solicitor will discuss their percentages before taking on your claim, but this is legally capped, meaning you will generally get to keep the majority of the compensation you are awarded. This will also only be deducted once your compensation is fully paid. 

If you would like to know more about how No Win No Fee could benefit you, get in touch with our advisors today. They could also help you start a personal injury claim for psychological damages by connecting you with a solicitor from our panel. 

Learn More

Thank you for reading our guide on how to make a personal injury claim for psychological damages. We hope you found it helpful. To learn more about relevant topics, please see below. 

Have You Been Injured at a Public Train Station? – A guide to making a personal injury claim after an accident at a public train station.

Public Cycle Path Accident Claims – An article explaining how to claim after an accident on a public cycle path. 

Accident in a Public Bar Compensation Guide – A guide on claiming compensation after being injured in an accident in a public bar. 

Help and Support After a Traumatic Event – An NHS article on the support pathways open to you after a traumatic event. 

Rape Crisis – A charity aiming to support victims of sexual assault with online advice and support. 

Thank you for reading our guide on how to make a personal injury claim for psychological damage. 

Article by AO 

Publisher UI