Over recent years, there has been a notable increase in the number of people who work in the healthcare sector seeking compensation for psychiatric and psychological injury suffered in the workplace due to the nature of the jobs they do. It is also noteworthy that many employees file claims for being harassed and bullied in the workplace. There are many circumstances which could lead to you suffering psychological injuries while you are at work, with stress and anxiety being high on the list. To find out more about filing a psychiatric and psychological injury at work claim, please read on.
Definition of Stress in the Workplace
No matter what the profession, it would be fair to say that there will be times when an employee is put under a certain about of pressure. However, if the pressure you are put under while carrying out your job results in you being stressed out to such an extent that it negatively impacts your overall health and psychological well-being, you may have grounds to seek compensation from your employer. With this said, for a psychiatric and psychological claim to be upheld, the damage has to be “reasonably foreseeable” which then means liability can be proved.
Foreseeable Risks Explained
Your employer has a legal duty to assess any risks and hazards you may have to face while carrying out your job. They must set in place “reasonable” measures with an end goal being to address them. Past claims have also established that your employer has a duty to make sure your return to work having suffered psychiatric and psychological injury in the workplace, must be appropriately dealt with so that any arrangements that you make with an employer are responsibly catered for.
How Do I Prove a Psychiatric and Psychological Claim Against an Employer?
You would have to prove that your employer was in breach of their “duty” and that for this reason, you suffered psychiatric and psychological injury in the workplace. It is worth noting that employer negligence may not be the entire cause but that it was enough to be material to your injury. Should this be the case, your employer could be held partly responsible and therefore the amount of compensation you may be awarded in a successful claim would reflect this.
Can I File a Psychological Damage Claim Against My Employer?
For a psychological damage claim against an employer to be upheld, you would have to prove that the injury you suffered can be directly linked to a traumatic incident that occurred in the workplace and that it happened due to the negligence of a third party. This type of psychological injury is often the result of the following:
- A traumatic and stressful event such as a catastrophic workplace accident
- Being a witness to a traumatic incident
Having suffered a psychological injury at work, you could then develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Other damage you could suffer from includes the following:
- Anxiety disorder
Any of the above can have a serious and negative impact on your overall well-being and health. If extreme, it can even be life-changing with symptoms being a lot more debilitating than a physical injury sustained in the workplace.
It is also worth noting that psychiatric and psychological injury claims typically go hand in hand with a physical injury accident at work claim but can also be filed as unique claims in their own right. For your case to be upheld whether by a court or an insurance provider, the symptoms you experience as a direct result of having suffered psychological damage in the workplace, would have to have lasted for several weeks or months after having experienced or witnessed a traumatic incident in the workplace.
It is also noteworthy that there are 2 sorts of psychological injury victims which are detailed below:
- Primary victims – this refers to employees/people who are directly involved in the traumatic incident which led to them suffering from psychiatric and psychological injury in the workplace through no fault of their own but rather through the negligence of a third party
- Secondary victims – this refers to employees/people who witness a traumatic incident in the workplace which leads to them suffering from psychological injury. To meet the necessary criteria, a secondary victim must prove a close tie to the person involved in a workplace accident and that they witnessed the incident or were involved in the aftermath
What are the Symptoms of Psychiatric and Psychological Injury?
The symptoms you may experience when suffering from psychological injury would depend on several factors. However, where PTSD is concerned, the symptoms could include the following:
- Sleep deprivation
- Emotional avoidance
With this said, other symptoms often associated with psychological injury could include the following:
- Constant low mood swings
- Lack of interest and/or motivation
- Heart palpitations
Should you suffer from an existing mental health issue and would like to file a psychological injury claim against an employer, you must be able to prove that your mental health has become a lot worse as a result of having been involved in a traumatic incident in the workplace.
Would My Psychiatric and Psychological Injury Claim be Valid?
This type of accident at work claim is, by nature, a complex legal process which would require that you be assessed by a psychiatrist who would provide a report on your mental health and your need for ongoing treatment and therapy. This report is essential because for your psychological injury claim to be upheld, a judge would factor in a psychiatrist’s notes when assessing whether your case against an employer is valid or not.
What Level of Compensation Would I Receive in a Psychiatric and Psychological Claim?
The amount you may be awarded in a successful psychiatric and psychological claim, would depend on the severity of your symptoms and how your life and ability to work has been negatively impacted. The psychological injury compensation you may receive would also take into account all your loss of earnings during your recovery and whether you had to undergo cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which is only provided by private specialists and not the NHS.
It is also worth noting that all cases of psychological injury are treated as unique and as such, the amount you may be awarded could differ from the compensation another employee may have received in a successful claim. As such, the amounts indicated below are given as ballpark psychological injury compensation amounts:
- Psychological injury that is deemed severe which negatively impacts your overall well-being and mental health which as a result leaves you vulnerable, the amount that may be awarded could be anything from £43,710 to £92,240
- Psychological injury that is deemed moderately severe but for which the prognosis is more positive although a person would still be affected, the amount awarded could be anything from £15,200 to £43,710
- Moderate psychological trauma where the prognosis is typically positive but where close relationships may be negatively impacted, the amount that could be awarded would be between £4,670 – £15,200
- Less severe cases where psychological trauma is an issue and which affects a person’s ability to deal with everyday life, the amount that may be awarded could be anything from £1,220 – £4,670
- Post-traumatic stress disorder is assessed as a separate category and the amounts that may be awarded could be anything from £3,150 to £80,250 for extremely severe cases
What Can I Include in My Psychiatric and Psychological Injury Claim?
As with all personal injury claims whether work-related or other, the way compensation is calculated is divided into 2 parts which covers General Damages and Special Damages.
General damages are calculated as follows:
- On the pain, suffering and loss of amenity you had to endure as a direct result of being injured in the workplace. This incorporates how your working and personal life is impacted
Special damages are calculated as follows:
- On the costs and expenses you incurred as a direct result of your injury, pain and suffering. This includes travel and medical expenses and all other costs you had to pay out. It is important to retain all receipts which would be needed when calculating the amount of compensation you would be entitled to receive. Special damages also factor in any loss of wages and future earnings should you not be able to work again.
Should I Sue My Employer for a Psychiatric and Psychological Injury?
Employers have a legal duty to keep you safe from injury and harm while you are in the workplace and this includes keeping you safe from psychological harm. In short, if for any reason you are put under tremendous pressure or you are bullied in the workplace and as a consequence you suffer a psychological injury, you have every right to seek compensation from your employer.
Your employer cannot prevent you from filing a psychiatric and psychological injury claim and if they do, they could be breaking the law. As such, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in this type of claim. They would offer essential advice on how best to proceed when it comes to seeking psychological injury compensation from your employer.
What are My Workers Rights?
As previously mentioned, your worker’s rights are highly protected by UK law and legislation. An employer must abide by these regulations and laws because failing to do so could lead to legal action being taken out against them. If you are injured in an accident at work your rights are as follows:
- You can seek compensation for the injury you suffered
- Your job is safe even though you seek compensation from an employer
Should your employer threaten you in any way which includes firing you, making your redundant or if they make your working life very difficult, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor because you could take out further action against your employer and this includes “unfair dismissal”.
What Are My Employer’s Responsibilities in the Workplace?
Your employer has a duty of care to keep you safe when you are working for them. This means ensuring that the working environment is safe and that all reasonable measures have been set in place to reduce the risk of you suffering an injury in a workplace accident. An employer’s responsibility towards you includes that they abide by the following:
- To abide by Health and Safety Executive regulations and other laws that are in place to keep employees/workers safe from harm and injury in the workplace
- To ensure that all members of staff are given adequate training to carry out a job they are tasked to do
- To ensure that machinery, equipment and tools are correctly maintained as per a manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations
- To provide adequate personal protection equipment to employees when necessary and to ensure that all PPE is correctly stored, maintained and readily available
- To carry out regular assessments of risk and hazards in the workplace to identify hazards
- To provide detailed working practices to all employees/workers
Should your employer fail to do any of the above and you suffer an injury in a workplace accident which includes a psychological injury, you could be entitled to seek compensation because your employer could be deemed liable due to negligence.
Is There a Time Limit to Filing a Psychiatric and Psychological Claim?
You have 3 years to file a psychiatric and psychological claim against a negligent employer providing you can meet the criteria detailed above. The statutory time limit for all personal injury claims is detailed as follows:
- 3 years from the time you were involved in an incident that left you traumatised
- 3 years from the date you were diagnosed as suffering from a condition that can be directly linked to a traumatic incident you experienced or witnessed in the workplace
- 3 years from your 18th birthday, should the incident that left you traumatised prior to your 18th birthday
Can My Employer Fire Me For Filing a Claim?
Your employer cannot treat you unfairly because you seek compensation for any sort of injury you sustain in the workplace, whether physical or psychological and if you are threatened with the sack, your employer would be breaking UK law and could face further legal action. If you are threatened with redundancy, treated unfairly because you file a psychiatric and psychological claim against your employer, before doing anything else which includes resigning from your job, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor.
Are There Any Benefits to Working With a No Win No Fee Solicitor on a Psychiatric and Psychological Injury Claim?
Because this time of case can be complex, it is far better to work with a solicitor who has vast experience in handling psychiatric and psychological injury claims for employees in the past. There are many advantages to having a lawyer represent you when making a claim for compensation against an employer. This includes the following:
- A lawyer has access to legal libraries which is essential when dealing with this type of claim against an employer. The reason being that a solicitor can use “precedents” on which to base aspects of your claim
- Once a solicitor is satisfied that you have a valid claim, they would sign a No Win No Fee agreement with you which means you would not have to pay an upfront fee or further payments. The only time you would pay a No Win No Fee solicitor is when you win your case and the percentage you agreed to pay, is deducted from the amount of compensation your receive
- A solicitor would arrange for you to be examined by specialists/consultants and the report they provide would be used as a basis for your claim
- A solicitor would ensure that you receive ongoing therapy should this be required
- A solicitor would also negotiate a correct level of compensation, bearing in mind that 95% of personal injury claims are settled out of court
A solicitor would have to satisfy themselves that you have a valid psychological claim against your employer and therefore that your case stands an above average chance of succeeding whether you claim is heard by a judge or your employer’s insurance provider chooses to offer a settlement out of court. Should this be the case, an experienced solicitor would ensure that the psychological injury compensation you receive is acceptable and that the amount reflects the damage you suffered in the workplace.