A campaign aiming to reform the law for people suffering from psychiatric harm after witnessing the deaths or injuries of loved ones, launched in Parliament this week.
Not-for-profit campaign group the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) says the current law, established following the Hillsborough stadium disaster, is“archaic and inflexible”.
“People who are suffering and very vulnerable are subjected to unfair and unrealistic demands to prove they are eligible to make a claim for compensation to help put their lives back on track,” said APIL president Matthew Stockwell, who will address assembled peers and MPs at a reception in the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday).
“In almost every case people have to prove they had a close tie of love and affection with the person who was killed or injured, which is extremely intrusive, especially when someone is distressed or grieving,” he said. “They are also expected to be physically nearby when the death or injury happens before they can be judged to have suffered psychiatric harm when it’s perfectly obvious that you don’t need to actually see someone you love killed to be deeply affected by it.
“These people are not just a bit upset,” he went on. “And they can’t claim if their loved one was killed in a genuine accident. But if the death or injury happened because of negligence, and real psychiatric harm is suffered as a result, then the person who suffers that harm should be able to claim compensation without jumping through unrealistic legal hoops.
“Medical science has learned much about psychiatric injury in the 25 years since the Hillsborough disaster, and we know now that psychiatric illness can be every bit as debilitating as a physical injury. It’s time for change to help those left behind after tragedies which should never have happened”.
· Case following the Hillsborough disaster refers to Alcock vs Chief of South Yorkshire Police.
· APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
· For more information contact APIL’s press and communications officers Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, m: 07808 768623, e: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tim Carter t: 0115 943 5409, e: email@example.com.
· Visit the association’s website at www.apil.org.uk.
· Follow @APIL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APIL.