Those who suffer psychiatric injury as a result of witnessing shocking events that are caused by negligence can win substantial compensation. In one case that proves the point, the mother and grandmother of a baby girl who was born seriously disabled have won more than £40,000 in damages.
The girl was born apparently lifeless at an NHS birth centre and suffered severe brain damage due to oxygen starvation. In ruling that the NHS trust which ran the facility was fully liable for her injuries, the High Court found that her delivery had been negligently delayed. The amount of her compensation has yet to be assessed but is likely to be a seven-figure sum given the extent of her lifelong care needs.
The girl's mother and grandmother also sued the trust in respect of the nervous shock that they suffered. They had believed that the baby was dead and the events that they witnessed had serious psychiatric consequences for both of them. The mother was awarded £25,000 in damages and the grandmother, who was present throughout the traumatic delivery, received £15,750.