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Tort Law

Tort Law (8th edn)

Kirsty Horsey and Erika Rackley
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date: 16 June 2024

p. 1065. Special duty problems: psychiatric harmlocked

p. 1065. Special duty problems: psychiatric harmlocked

  • Kirsty Horsey
  •  and Erika Rackley


This chapter begins by explaining the meaning of psychiatric harm. Though initially psychiatric harm was recoverable only if accompanied by physical injury, it is now clear that the claimant can recover for pure psychiatric harm so long as it is a recognised psychiatric illness. The chapter considers the distinction between ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ victims and other circumstances where the law recognises victims of psychiatric harms as having a claim in negligence (rescuers, involuntary participants, communicators of shocking news, self-harm by the defendant and ‘assumption of responsibility’ cases).

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