Are physical injuries a prerequisite for a psychological trauma lawsuit?

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Physical injuries are not a prerequisite for alleging psychological damages though most cases do involve a physical injury that leads to emotional distress or other psychological harm. You can bring a claim for psychological distress harm against a negligent party if it meets a two-part test:

  1. The emotional or psychological injury was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s wrongful or negligent conduct; and,
  2. The psychological injury you are suffering from is serious enough to be a recognizable psychological condition or illness

A recognizable psychological injury or condition is typically one found in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM)-VI used by psychologists and psychiatrists when diagnosing patients. If your symptoms fit the criteria of a condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder that is severe or critical enough, you can be awarded certain benefits and your claim can go forward toward collecting additional compensation in a third-party claim. The threshold or standard to pursue a third-party claim for a physical or psychological injury is “a serious and permanent impairment of an important physical, psychological or mental function,” or one that has severely affected your ability to engage in your daily living activities.

Some unusual cases of psychological distress claims that Canadian courts have allowed to continue include:

  • Prison inmates sued the federal government for “uncomfortable detention” wherein they allegedly were denied lack of access to sunlight, a barber, sufficient library resources, and adequate sleep resulting in extreme depression, erosion of self-worth, feelings of hopelessness, and nervous shock.
  • A Calgary resident who sued a grocery co-op after she was banned for shoplifting alleged defamation, shame, loss of family honor, and which led to her husband’s suicide.
  • An Ontario motorist who was allegedly speeding, texting and under the influence of alcohol sued 3 bicyclists whom she ran over and caused serious injuries to one and fatal injuries to another alleged her own psychological suffering including PTSD, extreme depression, and catastrophic impairment and anxiety. She did claim the cyclists did not have lights on their bikes, were not wearing helmets, and were not riding in a “prudent manner.”

Although these claims may seem extreme, there are often issues that news reports do not include that would justify or support reasonable and highly plausible allegations of mental distress. In the majority of accident cases where psychological harm is alleged, there are serious and credible factors that cause injured victims severe distress that diminishes their enjoyment of life and ability to function normally.

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The personal injury lawyers at McNally Gervan LLP understand the system and are here to help concussion victims in Ottawa get the support they need and the benefits they deserve.

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If you have a question or need assistance, our team of personal injury lawyers is here to help. We know every personal injury case is unique and we work hard to make sure our clients are fairly compensated.

If you are unable to travel to our downtown Ottawa office, one of our lawyers or paralegals can come to meet you at your home or some other convenient location. During the free consultation, we will get to know you and to understand the nature of your injuries, as well as the impact the accident is having on you and your family. Contact us for a free consultation with a lawyer with complete knowledge about car accident claims. We know it’s personal.