Updated: October 2022
If you suffer PTSD from work-related issues, you may consider making a post-traumatic stress disorder claim against your employer.
Here are 12 things you should know:
1. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition caused by a frightening, stressful or distressing event.
It is an anxiety disorder and is considered to be a psychological injury.
2. PTSD is caused by being involved in or witnessing a horrific event.
3. An accident at work claim arises when your employer breaches his duty of care to do all he reasonably can be expected to do to keep you safe at work.
If, as a result of that breach of duty, you suffer an injury in an accident at work, you may have grounds for bringing an accident at work claim against your employer. You could claim compensation for pain and suffering the injury causes, together with an amount to cover your financial losses incurred or yet to be incurred, such as:
- Loss of earnings
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs.
- Your employers duty to protect your health at work is not just limited to taking care of your physical health. They must also take all reasonable safeguards to look after your mental health.
If you were exposed to traumatic events whilst at work, the effects could trigger PTSD. For example, this might happen if you:
- were involved in a serious workplace accident, or
- you witnessed an incident in which someone else suffered a serious injury whilst you were doing your job. The traumatic event could happen in the workplace, or if your job involves driving, it could include a situation where you witness the aftermath of a major road traffic accident.
4. PTSD is a recognised, defined, diagnosable mental health problem.
5. Symptoms of PTSD vary, but some of the more common ones are:
- Flashbacks to the traumatic incident: known as ‘Re-experiencing’
- Nightmares about what you saw and the aftermath
- You keep seeing distressing images of the incident
- Getting negative thoughts about the experience, they have been through
- Unable to come to terms with what has happened: known as ‘Avoidance’
- Avoiding people and places that remind you of the traumatic event
- Unable to talk about what has occurred
- Getting distracted to block out thinking about the experience
- Deliberately trying to become emotionally numb
- Isolating oneself
- Becoming withdrawn
- Unable to relax and always anxious: known as hyperarousal
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Exhibiting challenging behaviour (particularly in the case of children with PTSD)
Stress can manifest itself in physical symptoms, as well, including:
- Feeling sick
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
6. Workers particularly at risk of getting PTSD include:
- Doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical personnel
- Armed forces personnel
- Professional drivers
People in certain occupations (like those listed above) are more likely to experience traumatic events than the general population. Nevertheless, any of us could be involved in a serious accident at work or be a witness to, or have to deal with the aftermath of one.
7. When would my employer be liable to compensate me if I developed PTSD whilst doing my job?
Your employer must do whatever is reasonably practicable to ensure your health, safety, and welfare whilst you are at work. He owes you a duty of care, and should he fall down in that duty of care, he is being negligent.
If you become involved in or witness a horrifying accident or incident at work due to your employer’s negligence, and it results in you developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, you may be able to bring a PTSD compensation claim against your employer.
8. Your employer could be in breach of his duty of care to keep you safe if he fails to:
a) carry out a risk assessment on what could harm you in doing your job
b) take precautions to stop any risk of harm to you from happening
c) explain to you how the risk will be controlled and the person who will be responsible for controlling the risk
d) consult and work with you to prevent you and your colleagues from coming to harm
e) provide you with the training you need to be able to carry out your job safely
f) provide you with the tools and PPE to allow you to do your job safely
g) maintain your tools and PPE equipment in good order
9. How would I prove I got PTSD from an accident at work?
You need to be aware of the symptoms of PTSD. We have already described the many symptoms that could indicate you may have PTSD from experiencing a terrible event at work. If you experience any of the symptoms outlined, your first call should be to your GP.
If your GP thinks you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he or she will refer you to a consultant psychiatrist or psychologist, who will conduct a mental health assessment.
The assessment will focus on your:
- Physical needs
- Mental needs
- Social needs
A decision will be made on whether to refer you to the community mental health team (CMHT). If your symptoms persist for more than four weeks, you should be directed to the CMHT, which is part of the NHS.
10. How do I make a PTSD claim against my employer?
PTSD accident at work claims can be complex legal cases to pursue. For that reason alone, you should seek out the assistance of an experienced accident at work solicitor. Here are some more reasons for contacting a solicitor who knows how to handle PTSD compensation claims:
- They can advise you on the prospects of making a successful PTSD claim in your case
- If you have reasonable prospects of making a winnable PTSD claim against your employer, an expert personal injury solicitor will have the know-how to navigate through the process of getting the correct medical reports to prove that you have PTSD.
- An expert in PTSD claims will also know the right amount of compensation to fight for on your behalf and will do so by using a No Win No Fee Agreement to protect you from having to pay legal costs if your claim isn’t successful.
- You are more likely to pursue your claim to get the best compensation settlement possible if you aren’t constantly worried about legal costs. A No Win No Fee PTSD claim will help you achieve that result.
11. How much will I get for a PTSD at work claim?
Every case is judged on its own merits when it comes to valuing a PTSD claim. In addition, it should be remembered that it is rare to claim only for the injury or trauma you suffer in a personal injury or psychological trauma case.
There will also usually be a claim for special damages.
- Special damages claims include claims for items such as:
- loss of earnings,
- medical fees,
- travel expenses,
- rehabilitation and care costs
and all other ‘money’ claims.
The amount and types of special damages vary in every case.
You claim general damages for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by the injury. The term ‘loss of amenity’ refers to the extent the injury has affected your day to day life in terms of work, home, personal relations and social life. Whilst your claim for general damages covers three separate items of damage; pain, suffering and loss of amenity, you will receive one payment of compensation to cover all three.
The following table provides guidelines on how the court will assess the claim’s value for general damages for PTSD, depending on the severity of the psychological trauma you suffer.
|Severe PTSD :
||£59,860 to £100,670|
|Every aspect of the injured person’s life will be affected with permanent effects
|Moderately Severe PTSD||£23,150 to £59,860|
|Some recovery with professional help|
|Moderate PTSD||£8,180 to £23,150|
|Largely recovered: continuing defects not grossly disabling|
|Less Severe||£3,950 to £8,180|
|Virtually full recovery within 2 years|
Guideline general damages figures as set out in the Judicial College Guidelines for the assessment of General Damages in Personal injury Cases 16th Edition, 2022.
12. Can PTSD be treated?
There are three main types of therapy for PTSD.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Group therapy
Your personal injury solicitor will help you arrange appropriate treatment in conjunction with your medical experts and look to recover the costs from your employers’ insurance company.
Specialist personal injury solicitors should be asked to take conduct of accident at work claims for PTSD. At Mooneerams solicitors, we only handle personal injury claims and only act for claimants, i.e. the person making a claim; we don’t act for insurance companies or employers.
Moooneerams Solicitors won the Personal Injury Team of the Year accolade at the Wales Legal Awards in 2022. Our Personal Injury team has over 100 years of combined experience handling personal injury claims.
We handle most accident claims, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder claims, on a No Win No Fee basis so that you have nothing to pay if your claim is unsuccessful.
Call Mooneerams on 029 2048 3615 for a free initial consultation with one of our team of personal injury experts.