Work stress solicitors injury compensation claims encompass wide ranging issues, however most legal action is the result of a situation where the employee is suffering from a recognised psychiatric injury, which was caused by the negligent or unlawful actions of their employer. Those psychiatric injuries involving work related stress can include depression, adjustment disorders, ranging from mild symptoms of hurt feelings to the serious symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It is possible for work stress solicitors to claim compensation against an employer for psychiatric illness. Injury compensation claims for work related stress must fit in exactly with a number of parameters laid down by the courts. To be held liable an employer must have been aware that a particular employee was vulnerable and that employee must have been placed in an environment that could reasonably be anticipated to cause that employee mental illness without regard to the risks posed. Most large employers now have systems in place to identify vulnerable individuals and have safety nets in place together with counselling schemes that should be sufficient to ensure that they are not held liable.
If it can be proven by a work stress solicitor that a third party caused psychiatric injury causing the victim to suffer difficulty with life and/or work or problems that affect relationships with friends and family the victim may be entitled to psychiatric injury compensation ranging from £1,000 to upwards of £100,000. For a psychiatric injury compensation claim to succeed the victim has to sustain a ‘recognisable psychiatric illness’ caused by the negligence or breach of duty of a third party. This means that the psychiatric injury has to be diagnosed as a recognised illness by a trained psychiatrist rather than just grief, distress or other emotional disturbance. Short term and trivial psychiatric problems falling short of clinical depression will not qualify for an award of damages in a psychiatric injury compensation claim.
Cases within this category are exclusively those where there is a specific diagnosis of a reactive psychiatric disorder in which characteristic symptoms are displayed following a psychologically distressing event which was outside the range of normal human experience and which would be markedly distressing to almost anyone. The guidelines below have been compiled by reference to cases which variously reflect the criteria established in the 4th edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). The symptoms affect basic functions such as breathing, pulse rate and bowel and/or bladder control. They also involve persistent re-experience of the relevant event, difficulty in controlling temper, in concentrating and sleeping, and exaggerated startle response.
Historically the Courts have not been keen to award compensation for psychiatric illness arising either out a life threatening incident as in the case of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or as a result of continual overbearing stress in an employment situation however matters have improved over the last decade and there is now a reasonable chance of succeeding in an application for compensation for psychiatric illness.
Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is sometimes suffered after being involved in an incident which is outside or should be outside normal human experience, particularly those accidents which involve a life threatening experience. This triggers symptoms which psychiatrists recognise under their diagnostic manuals as ICD 10 and DSM IV symptoms.
Compensation for PTSD which can be a highly debilitating long term illness attracts a wide range of damages depending on the severity of the psychiatric injury and the length of the illness which for many people can be an incurable chronic illness that impinges on work and all aspects of lifestyle. PTSD is categorised as follows :-
The more physical or mental pressure that your employer puts you under then the more steps your employers must take to ensure that the pressure is not going to be harmful to your health. Those who have already suffered from depression or who have had a previous nervous breakdown are vulnerable and more likely to suffer from a second episode. Therefore, if you have suffered from depression or a nervous breakdown to the knowledge of your employer then that employer has no choice but to take some steps to relieve the stress from you at work. Failure by your employer to do so may result in your suffering further harm and your employer being liable to pay you compensation in a solicitors work related stress compensation claim.
Management or employers are legally liable to the employee when conditions in the workplace cause undue stress, which results in injuries and loss. Management or an employer may be responsible for legal wrongs that can include the following:
Breach of Contract
Bullying and/or Harassment
Harassment contrary to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997
Work stress solicitors claims are often misunderstood, mishandled or overlooked both in the community and by the legal profession including both most solicitors and barristers. The liability to the United Kingdom’s economy is reported to be more than £5 billion every year and account for 40 percent of all illnesses. At present, stress is the largest cause of extended absences from work in UK. The illness accounts for 33 percent of all workplace absenteeism. The results of an Health & Safety Executive survey conducted showed that individuals miss more than 30 days of work due to each incidence of stress.
The cost to employers that do not correctly assess the risk and implement measures to reduce stress at work can be substantial with compensation awards being paid for:
Stress at work claims are intricate; however, the basic standards are:
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 can be extremely useful to a claimant and their solicitor, as this Act incorporates a broad list of actions. When a claimant establishes the employer’s culpability or negligence under this Act, the stipulation of ‘foreseeability’ is not necessary. Also the term of limitation is six years for this Act. For these and other reasons, this Act provides an alternate means of presenting a claim for wrongful acts than the Equality Act 2010.
There are no complete or absolute definitions of what comprises harassment within the Act; however, case law suggests harassing conduct must have been of such a severe nature that a Court could order criminal sanctions in regards to the harassing individual.
Thomas v Newsgroup Newspapers (2001) EWCA 1233, provides a correct test in its applicable summary that harassing conduct must:
Hatton v Sutherland (2002) ICR 613 is a reference that often determines a framework for claims of negligence, in that its guidance provides assessment for occupational stress. The Hatton Judgement is still a working starting point when assessing claim even though guidance and law have progressed since the ruling.
Legal action for negligence can be considered for those employers and managers that fail to utilise HSE guidelines for managing stress in places of work. The HSE’s published guidance should be utilised by all managers as a reference to reduce stress factors and risk.
These are some of the factors identified by the guidance are:
Stress at work claims can be very tricky to deal with and it is essential that you seek professional advice at the first opportunity. Clearly if you have already suffered from depression or psychological injury as a result of stress, the last thing you want to do is to have to conduct a stressful claim. Our solicitors will ensure that you have an experienced work stress solicitor who will advise you on how to make a claim with the least mental trauma. Our work stress solicitors are familiar with this type of case and will take the stress out of making a claim for you. All you have to do is provide information and cooperate with the solicitor acting on your behalf.
If you would like no cost legal advice with no further obligation from a specialist personal injury lawyer, just use the helpline or email our offices. We operate the no win no fee* scheme otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement. No legal charge is payable unless the legal case is won and the client obtains an award of compensation. In the event that the legal claim is lost there is no charge made to the client. If you have been injured within the last three years you should contact us. You will receive a complete professional service from lawyers who specialise in claiming compensation for personal injury.