Essay on Psychiatric Injury in Tort

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In this case, there are four phychiatric injury victims namely Alice, Randy, Dave and Cindy. All of them are all secondary victims as they were not physically injured and not being put in the fear for their own safety. The leading case in this area is McLoughlin v O’Brian [1983] AC 410. In the judgments, Lord Bridge and Scarman held that reasonable foreseeability of phychiatric harm was the sole criterion for duty of care but Lord Wilberforce, with the support of Lord Edmund Davies and Lord Russell, thought that various policy matters had also be concerned in order to limit the extent of the duty of care. He said that the duty of care should be restricted to a limited class of persons: 1) only those in parent/child or spousal relations to the primary victim. 2) Who witnessed the accident through their own senses of sight or hearing, third party communications excluded, and, 3) who were at the sense of the accident. Another authority in this area is Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire [1992] 1 AC 310. In this case, the rules set out in the McLoughlin case were upheld. Various types of secondary phychiatric victims failed to claim for damages. Some of them were suffered quite similarly to the victims in the current case. Among the four victims in the current case, Alice, the wife of Ben who was the primary victim, could satisfy the three limiting factors set in the McLoughlin case. She is likely to succeed in claiming for damages. Possible counter argument is that she ignored the police instructions and had broken through the cordon may constitute an Novus Actus Intervenien but this would unlikely affect the claim as it is reasonable and foreseeable for her to do so. Another victim, Randy, has to identities. He is the brother of Ben as well as a rescuer. Randy is unlikely to be successful as he has not enough proximity according the first rule set in

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