Some background to the vexed question of psychiatric claims vs physical claims

June 30, 2019

I have been doing more research on the issue of widespread discrimination against claimants with psychiatric injury. I came across this paper, written by a lawyer that gives an interesting overview of the dilemma facing governments in dealing with these claims.

The writer states:

The main arguments against pure psychiatric injury claims can be summarised as follows:

1. The existence of mental harm is more difficult to prove than physical harm, and carries with it the associated risk of trivial and/or fraudulent claims. This is coupled with the traditional medical and cultural notions of extreme psychiatric response being hysterical and irrational, and so less worthy of compensation than physical injury.

2. Because psychological injury can afflict people beyond the range of physical effects of negligence, there is potential for a vast class of claimants arising from the one negligent act (that is, opening the floodgates).

3. Following on from (2) above, the imposition of liability in such cases burden the defendant with liability out of proportion to the negligence alleged, and thus produce iniquitous outcomes.[14] Further, the fear of liability may inhibit normal and desirable societal activities and interactions.
Historical development


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