A landmark case (Paul v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust) is heading to the Supreme Court on so called ‘secondary victims’ of clinical negligence claims and who may fall into this category of claimants when considering liability.
A possible secondary victim in a medical context is an individual with close ties of love and affection to the primary victim of a negligent act. Currently, in order to satisfy the criteria of a secondary victim (and therefore to be eligible to bring a claim), this individual must also be in close proximity in time to the original traumatic incident. Until now, this ‘proximity in time’ in clinical negligence cases could not be too far removed, closing the doors on numerous potential claims.
Whilst it is still early days, the ruling may bring some hope to close relatives who have suffered psychiatric injuries because someone close to them has suffered as a result of clinical negligence. This group of claimants are currently ignored, and yet they could be severely psychiatrically affected.
This is positive news for anyone who has suffered psychiatric injury as a secondary victim as a result of clinical negligence. Anyone in this position should contact a specialist solicitor who has clinical negligence experience to discuss their options, and whether they may be able to get help for their injuries.