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Compensation for Psychiatric Injury

The new Judicial Council Personal Injury Guidelines has replaced the previous Book of Quantum and sets out the revised general guidelines for personal injury awards.

Whereas previously the Book of Quantum did not contain a category for psychiatric injuries, the new Personal Injury Guidelines have been expanded to include compensation guidelines for a number of categories of psychiatric damage.

Psychiatric injury can be caused in a variety of scenarios, for example developing PTSD from a workplace accident or an injury in a public place where the circumstances were particularly traumatic.

To claim for psychiatric injuries in the absence of physical injuries, a claimant must suffer from a recognisable psychiatric illness because of the negligence of another.  As the Guidelines point out, upset, distress, grief, disappointment and humiliation do not attract compensation. Grief, if experienced by a dependent, may attract an award of damages under the Civil Liability Act 1961 pursuant to a Fatal Injury claim.

Considerations affecting the level of the award for psychiatric injury will include:

(i) Age;

(ii) Interference with quality of life and education;

(iii) Impact on work;

(iv) Impact on interpersonal relationships;

(v) Whether medical assistance has been sought;

(vi) Nature, extent and duration of treatment undertaken and/or

medication prescribed;

(vii) Likely success of treatment;

(viii) Prognosis, to include any future vulnerability;

(ix) The extent and/or nature of any associated physical injuries


The categories of psychiatric damage and the range of compensation under the new Guidelines are as follows;

A. Psychiatric Damage Generally

(a)  Severe psychiatric damage

In these cases, the injured person will have marked problems with respect to factors 4(ii) and (iii) above and the prognosis will be very poor.


(b) Serious psychiatric damage

In these cases there will be significant problems associated with factors 4(ii) and (iii) above but the prognosis will be more optimistic than in 4A(a) above.


(c) Moderate psychiatric damage

While there may have been problems of the sort associated with factors 4(ii) and (iii) above, there will have been marked improvement by the date of the trial and the prognosis will be good.



B.   Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Cases within this category are confined to those in which there is a specific diagnosis of a reactive psychiatric disorder following an event which creates psychological trauma in response to either experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Symptoms may include distressing memories of the traumatic event, nightmares, flashbacks, sleep disturbance, avoidance, mood disorder, suicidal ideation and hyperarousal. Symptoms of hyperarousal can affect basic functions such as breathing, pulse rate, and bowel and/or bladder control.

(a) Severe PTSD

Such cases will involve permanent effects which prevent the injured party from working at all or at least from functioning at anything approaching pre-trauma level. All aspects of the life will be badly affected.


(b) Serious PTSD

This category is distinct from (a) above because of a prognosis projecting some recovery with professional help. However, the effects are still likely to cause significant disability for the foreseeable future.

€35,000- €80,000

(c) Moderate PTSD

In these cases, the injured person will have largely recovered, and any continuing effects will not be grossly disabling.


(d) Minor PTSD

In these cases, the symptoms will have resolved within 2 years.


Where physical injuries are sustained, psychological injuries including depression will be a consideration affecting the level of the award for the physical injury.

If you feel that you are suffering from a psychiatric injury as a result of an incident which was not your fault, you may be entitled to bring a claim. The first consideration should always be recovery and medical assistance should be sought right away.  It is important to note a claimant has a period of two years to bring a claim in negligence for personal injuries.  This two-year period commences from the date on which the Claimant had knowledge of the link between the negligent act and the injury, for this reason legal advice should be sought.

Contact our expert Personal Injury Solicitors in Cork by email on info@halpinsolicitors.ie or by telephone on 021-425-1843 to discuss your case.

* In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

This guide is provided for general information purposes only and does not form part of any legal advice.


Halpin Solicitors Cork

7 South Mall, Cork City

Tel: 021 425 1843

Email: info@halpinsolicitors.ie