Can I sue someone for emotional trauma in Australia?
The short answer is yes.
In Australia, you can sue for emotional trauma in relation to work or emotional distress following a car accident.
Your rights in relation to emotional trauma and emotional distress, including nervous shock.
Can you sue someone for emotional trauma?
The short answer is yes.
Emotional trauma must be classified as a psychological injury. A psychological injury is emotional, behavioural and sometimes cognitive symptoms that affect how a person feels, thinks and behaves. Examples of psychological injuries or psychiatric injuries include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, adjustment disorder or bipolar disorder.
A claim for emotional trauma can be against your employer, as a result of an assault, as a result of witnessing a traumatic incident, a car accident or other accidents and incidents which occur because of the negligence of another person or entity.
Emotional trauma is usually referred to as a psychological injury. This can take the form of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder, bipolar disorder or a permanent aggravation of these conditions if they were pre-existing before the accident.
Can I sue my employer for emotional trauma?
Yes. An employer can be found liable to pay an employee compensation because they have sustained emotional distress in the course of their employment. Emotional distress must be a psychological injury rather than just “stress”.
You can make a claim under the Workers Compensation Act for weekly payments of compensation where you are unfit for work, payment of medical expenses and payment of a lump sum amount for permanent impairment. This is known as whole person impairment. You need to have a whole person impairment of 15% or more to be entitled to any lump sum compensation.
You can also sue your employer for emotional trauma if you have 15% whole person impairment and the injury was caused by the negligence of your employer.
Can I sue for emotional distress after a car accident?
Yes. Often when people sustain injuries in motor vehicle accidents, they have a primary psychological injury which is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a secondary psychological injury of anxiety and depression as a consequence of the impact that the physical injuries have had on their lives. Any psychological injury or emotional trauma suffered because of a car accident can be claimed as part of a claim for compensation.
In NSW the psychological injury must be a non-minor injury which means you must have more than an adjustment disorder. You need to be diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression or other psychological conditions because of the car accident. An adjustment disorder or stress will not be sufficient to make a common law claim for damages against the driver of the car which hit you.
If a close member of your family dies in a car accident and as a consequence of finding out about the death you sustained a psychological injury, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation in NSW. This is known as a nervous shock claim. You are entitled to claim compensation for the effects of the psychological injury on you even though you were not involved directly in the motor vehicle accident.
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