Secondary Victim

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In Alcock, the House of Lords made it clear that there would be no liability to a secondary victim who is told about the incident through a third party (this includes newspaper coverage and television broadcasts). Lord Ackner left open the possibility that watching a live broadcast could ground a claim if it clear that the victim had died. He recognised that live broadcasts "gave rise to feelings of the deepest anxiety and distress". Unfortunately, he concluded that "in the circumstances of this case, the simultaneous TV broadcast of what occurred cannot be equated with the sight or hearing of the event or its immediate aftermath". We propose that the law adopts a less restrictive interpretation of what 'perception' means. This requirement …show more content…
which violently agitates the mind" as opposed to a continuous process of dealing with the incident. This rule is "arbitrary and unfair... simply designed to restrict recovery and avoid a flood of liability". Unlike the ruling in Alcock, the Lordships in the Walters case took a realistic approach and held that a mother was able to recover as a secondary victim, for the psychiatric harm she suffered as a result of the negligent treatment which lead to the death of her son. The court had established that such a shocking event should not be confined to a single moment in time, the thirty six hours before her sons dead was classed as a single horrifying event. This ruling is evidently in line with the opinion of Ward LJ who stressed the importance of examining the "totality of the circumstances" which surround the accident. In a recent negligence case, Michael Kent stated that witnessing the consequences of the negligent act does not equate to witnessing a shocking event. In relation to the experience undergone by the police officers at the Hillsborough disaster, Henry L.J argued that "the length of the exposure and the circumstances of the exposure was the trauma that caused the psychiatric injury, rather than any sudden and immediate shock"'. He added that it “is not...the trigger, but the fact and foreseeability of psychiatric damage, by whatever process”. Recent developments in

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