The High Court of Australia has recently considered the issue of who can make a claim for psychiatric injury following the loss of a loved one.
The case arose following a fatal transport accident in South Australia, and a claim for psychological harm (known as a nervous shock claim) was brought by the deceased's brother. Unfortunately, legislation in South Australia specifically prohibits these claims being brought by anyone other than a parent, spouse, domestic partner or child of the deceased. The High Court found that ordinarily, a sibling of someone who dies would be entitled to compensation, however the South Australian legislation operated to specifically exclude a claim by anyone outside of those five categories.
Fortunately, the same restrictions do not apply in Victoria. If you have lost a close friend or family member as a result of a transport accident, the TAC are able to provide you with counselling in the aftermath of the loss, and if you continue to struggle psychologically in the future, you may be entitled to lump sum compensation.
Similarly, where someone dies at work or as a result of medical mismanagement, there is no legislation that specifically dictates who can make a claim for compensation in Victoria. This means that in addition to the immediate family of a lost loved one, claims can be brought by close friends, grandparents, nieces, nephews, aunties and uncles, provided they meet the required level of injury under the law.
If you have lost someone as a result of a transport accident, workplace incident or medical negligence, we invite you to speak to one of our expert injury lawyers on (03) 9321 9988.