When Can You File a Secondary Victim Claim after an Accident?
Janet was traveling to work with her sister when she was involved in an accident that left her sister dead with her being traumatized for days on end. A visit to a psychiatrist came up with a diagnosis of PTSD that she had to deal with. Can she file a claim for compensation?
Although not a notable feature in many personal injury cases, the secondary victim has been forgotten.
In many accidents, we have a primary victim, who is the one that is directly affected by the accident, and a secondary victim that is affected by witnessing the immediate aftermath of a loved one passing away in a clinical setting or after a road accident.
As the secondary victim, you are not usually physically injured in the accident. You have to show that the psychiatric injury came about after witnessing the incident for the claim to succeed.
Four Steps in Proving Liability
As a secondary victim, you have to prove that you couldn’t avoid the situation that led to the injury. Let us see the four steps that prove liability:
Step 1: Proof of Relationship
There has to be a close relationship between the primary and secondary victims. This includes spouses, children, and parents. As the secondary victim, you have to provide sufficient proof that the relationship exists otherwise, the claim might not be valid.
In most cases, the court allows you to demonstrate that there was a relationship of a parent/child or a husband/wife for you to seek compensation.
Step 2: Proof of Proximity
You have to prove that you were within the area when the incident happened. For instance, being in the same vehicle with the deceased or in the same room can count as proximity. However, you won’t count as a secondary victim if you watched the event on television and then, later on, went to the hospital to identify the deceased.
So, you need to be present when the accident happened or immediately afterward, in terms of time and space.
Step 3: Injury Through Unaided Senses
The injury must come through your unaided senses, especially by seeing or hearing the crash. You must appreciate the sight or sound of the event that agitated the mind to the point of being traumatized.
The event being narrated to you by a third party doesn’t count as an injury. You have to perceive injury, risk, or death using your senses and not through another medium.
Step 4: Proper Diagnosis
The psychiatric injury has to be recognizable through diagnosis. Some of the signs you need to present due to the event include the inability to work, trouble sleeping, nightmares, and flashbacks. Normal grief isn’t an adequate diagnosis the way most people think.
You need to visit a psychiatrist to determine whether the condition was caused by the accident or it has been pre-existent. The report by the doctor rules out pre-existing conditions that might ruin the claim.
How Does a Secondary Claim Work?
For the claim to work, you have to satisfy ALL the conditions as laid out above. Since the claim is this complicated, you need the assistance of a Daytona Beach personal injury lawyer that has handled such a claim before. Most of these cases are thrown out because the victim failed to satisfy all the requirements.
For instance, if there is too much time separating the incident from the diagnosis, the case might fail.
What Should You Do to Make a Successful Claim?
The first step is to enlist the services of a lawyer to help you establish whether you meet all the control tests that we have discussed before. He lawyer takes it upon himself to gather the evidence and make sure you get what you deserve in the form of compensation.
The lawyer performs a thorough chronology of events that are investigated to establish whether the criteria are met. He identifies whether you have a claim and ensures that the shocking event was the one responsible for the injury and was a result of negligence.
We Can Assist You get Justice
If you believe that you have a case as a secondary accident victim, then get in contact with us so that we can prove negligence and help you get compensated.