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PTSD Claims

An Overview

PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder – is a serious anxiety disorder which is usually caused by being involved in a traumatic incident or exposed to distressing events. It is, effectively, a form of mental shock (sometimes called ‘shell shock’) and can be triggered by experiences ranging from medical negligence, to sexual violation and death threats.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is typically caused by accidents and battlefield experiences of military personnel. It is a psychological injury which can lead to anxiety and paranoia and other mental health and emotional problems. Sometimes, PTSD is short-lived, however it can develop into a devastating condition that be difficult to come to terms with.

Fortunately, PTSD is not only treatable, but you may be able to claim compensation if it has been caused as a result of your working conditions or an accident – just as you would if you suffered physical injuries.

You don’t have to have sustained physical injuries to develop post traumatic stress disorder; but on the other hand, it is common to develop PTSD after suffering serious injuries.

PTSD can affect your working life and even cost you your job; it can affect your health and relationships, your social life and could affect your ability to drive. In fact, you must tell the DVLA if your PTSD does affect your driving, otherwise you risk being prosecuted and being handed a fine.

If you believe you have post traumatic stress disorder and you’ve not yet seen a health professional, it is important you see your GP, a psychologist or psychiatrist for diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Their notes and records will also be vital evidence to support your PTSD claim.

It is only right and fair that if you have developed PTSD – or any other form of psychological or mental health disorder – through no fault of your own, you should be compensated for your pain and mental distress.

Sometimes, it can take years for psychological trauma symptoms to develop, but that does not necessarily mean you cannot make a personal injury claim. If you believe your symptoms were originally caused a long time ago, it is vital you talk it through with a personal injury solicitor to find out if you can make a PTSD claim.

We understand how daunting it is even thinking about making a compensation claim for any mental health condition. Our friendly advisors are able to talk you carefully through your specific circumstances, explain the claims process to you and help you on the road to making a PTSD personal injury claim.

Importantly, your PTSD compensation claim will be taken on a No Win No Fee basis which means you will not have to pay out any legal costs if you do not win. You can call us for free advice on 0800 234 6438 or, if you prefer, you can fill in this online contact form.


Post traumatic stress disorder is estimated to affect roughly 1 in every 3 people who have experienced a traumatic incident. It is not known why some people develop the condition and not others


What are the symptoms of PTSD?

As a recognised psychiatric disorder, PTSD is more than what might be described as the normal, temporary emotional response to a difficult or frightening situation. Whenever we witness or experience a difficult event, such road traffic accidents or bereavement, it is human to experience feelings of anxiousness, anger, shock sadness and grief.

However, if these feelings continue unabated they can stop you leading a normal day to day life, affect your relationships, and make even simple decision-making difficult. Post traumatic stress disorder is a psychological injury which may be diagnosed if these symptoms of shock and anxiety continue for more than four weeks after the distressing event. The range and severity of the symptoms of PTSD vary significantly but typically include:

  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Amnesia
  • Panic attacks
  • Hyperarousal and easily startled
  • Flashbacks and ‘re-experiencing’ traumatic event
  • Relationship problems and emotional distress
  • Insomnia and nightmares
  • Avoidance; feelings of isolation
  • Paranoia (for example, if someone threatened death) and feelings of guilt and self-questioning
  • Withdrawal and emotional numbing
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Physical symptoms, such as pain, nausea, sweating and shaking, chest pains

Unlike a tangible physical injury, the symptoms of PTSD can begin slowly and progress to become a serious, debilitating mental health illness affecting your family life.

The effects of post traumatic stress disorder invariably have a major impact on the sufferer’s family and other relationships. If left untreated, it can also lead to alcohol and drugs dependency, and result in anger problems and violence and sometimes even suicide.

Thankfully, PTSD can be treated successfully although it can prove to be a long process. Treatment depends on your unique situation and can include medication (such as antidepressants, diazepam and antipsychotics), counselling and psychological therapies.

DID YOU KNOW: Post traumatic stress disorder sufferers have abnormal levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline. They have even continued to produce high amounts of stress hormones when there’s no danger – which could explain the numbed emotions and hyperarousal experienced by some people with PTSD

What causes PTSD?

If you’re exposed to a frightening or traumatic experience, you could develop PTSD. The event may have been at the time a serious road traffic accident happened, witnessing someone’s death or an incident at work. Because of the very nature of their work, emergency workers including the police, fire service personnel and paramedics at the sharp end of accidents and crime are known to be at particularly high risk of suffering from PTSD.

Examples of how post traumatic stress disorder can be caused include:

Road traffic accidents

Being involved in a serious road accident or actually witnessing someone seriously injured in a road accident

Criminal assaults

Being the victim of a violent physical or sexual assault, such as a robbery or rape

Abusive situations

Such as domestic abuse, bullying and torture

Military trauma

PTSD is one of the most common forms of military injuries, Ex-service personnel who are faced with the traumatic and stressful scenes and experiences of war can develop PTSD symptoms – soon after the event or sometime in the future. It can be so severe for members or former members of the armed forces as to lead to suicide if left untreated.

Medical negligence

Where surgery has gone wrong or, for instance, a patient is given insufficient anaesthetic and becomes aware of what is going on in the operating room (or even feels pain during surgery), PTSD can develop. If someone has a bad experience at the dentists, it can leave a lasting impression.

Find out more about making a dental negligence claim.

Birth-related trauma

An extremely difficult, traumatic birth can lead to post traumatic stress disorder for a parent. It can be the direct result of medical negligence.

This is not an exhaustive list of all causes of PTSD so if you think you’ve developed PTSD and believe that someone else should be held accountable, get in touch with us on 0800 234 6438. If you prefer, you can fill in this online contact form.

DID YOU KNOW: It wasn’t until 1980 that PTSD was official classified as a mental health condition, when the American Psychiatric Association included it in its publication, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Who can make a PTSD claim?

Most of us have experienced trauma of some sort that unsettles us for a few days or so. But if you develop major psychological or emotional reactions and problems sometime after the event, you are likely to have PTSD. This is a psychiatric disorder which you can claim compensation for, if someone else was responsible.

If you have been directly exposed to or involved in a traumatic event (or series of traumatic events) which was caused by someone else, and you suffer mentally and emotionally as a result – you can start a PTSD compensation claim. For example, you may have been at work and witnessed a distressing incident at work; or a patient who suffered negligent medical treatment; or an ex-soldier who has developed PTSD.

However, to make any successful personal injury compensation claim, it must be proved that the person responsible had a duty of care towards you and that this duty was breached, leading directly to your condition.

With PTSD compensation claims, it is not always clear whether or not the person at fault owed a duty of care to someone who has not suffered physical injuries. Therefore, your specialist solicitor will need to take a detailed account of what happened before advising you if you can make your own claim for PTSD compensation.

I witnessed an accident – can I claim compensation for PTSD?

A bystander who witnesses a horrific accident or incident, who then suffers a mental health disorder as a result, is known as the ‘secondary victim’. For example, if you were a bystander and witnessed a fatal road traffic accident you may have developed symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. In these circumstances, the victim is known in law as ‘the primary victim’ and you’re the bystander.

As a ‘secondary victim’ you may be able to claim PTSD compensation for psychiatric damage. However, there is a strict test as to whether or not you will be treated as a secondary victim:

  • There must be a close tie of love and affection to the primary victim, eg you were married or a parent or child;
  • There must have sufficient proximity to the event or the immediate aftermath;
  • You must have personally witnessed the event;
  • The PTSD or other injury to mental health must have been reasonably foreseeable to the person at fault; and
  • The event witnessed must have been ‘horrifying’ leading to the serious injury or death of your loved one.

So, for those who may have witnessed horrifying accidents but the victims were not known to them, there is no legal right to bring PTSD compensation claims. As always, if you have any doubts about whether or not you can claim compensation, always talk it over with a specialist lawyer.

To find out about the claims process, get in touch with our advisors on 0800 234 6438, or use our contact form and we’ll get back to you. We’ll partner you with specialist PTSD injury lawyers for a free initial consultation. Solicitors are heavily regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – giving much needed peace of mind.


Every week, 4 in every 100 people are diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder in England each week. Up to 1 in 13 children and young people in Britain will suffer from PTSD


Can I sue my employer for PTSD compensation?

Yes, if you witnessed or were involved in a traumatic incident at work through no fault of your own and you’ve developed post traumatic stress disorder as a direct result – you should be able to make a no win no fee claim.

The law imposes strict health and safety responsibilities on employers to ensure the workplace is safe and free from the risk of injury. They must have adequate safety guidelines and procedures that identify promptly any risks to worker health and safety and to deal with identified problems in a timely way. This extends to workers’ mental and emotional health. So if you’ve suffered PTSD at work, whether or not you were also physically injured, it’s likely your employer failed to fully comply with its health and safety obligations to protect you.

We understand how daunting it is to think about the prospect of suing your employer. But we can reassure you that work related PTSD claims are made against the employer’s insurance company and not the employer directly. This means your PTSD compensation would be paid by the insurer and not out of your employer’s own pocket.

You might understandably be worried about the potential impact on you if you make a compensation claim against your employer. Thankfully, employees are legally protected from being harassed or fired for bringing personal injury compensation claims. So if you go ahead with your claim but believe you’re being victimised because of your PTSD claim, take specialist advice as soon as possible about what further action you can take.


70,000,000 – The estimated number of mental health-related sick days each year in the UK



An employee working for a leading food producer developed severe PTSD after suffering severe burns to his hands when they became trapped in a machine. With successful CBT, costing £5,170, he returned to work after 18 months off work.

SOURCE: Health and Safety Executive

Compensation amounts for PTSD

How much compensation you could get for PTSD varies significantly, depending on the nature and extent of the condition and your prognosis. This means it can be very difficult to give an exact figure of how much compensation you might receive for your psychiatric injuries early on.

However, you can be sure your solicitor will always work to secure you the maximum compensation for PTSD. Compensation will be for your actual psychiatric injuries (as well as any physical injuries you’re also claiming for). This is called ‘general damages’. You may also be able to claim for specific financial losses, known as ‘special damages’.

General damages

Factors that will be relevant to how much compensation you receive in general damages include:

  • The nature and extent of your PTSD
  • What effect it is having on your life, work and relationships
  • How long it may take you to recover or, at least, bring it to a manageable level
  • Whether you can go back to work, or to the same job

Helpfully, there are formal judicial guidelines which lawyers refer to calculate the maximum compensation clients should be entitled to. In the case of PTSD compensation payouts, the guidelines suggest, for example:

  • Severe PTSD – £51,460 to £108,620
  • Moderate/moderately severe PTSD – £7,680 to £21,730
  • Mild PTSD – £3,710 to £7,680

If you have other injuries in addition to post traumatic stress disorder, your compensation will be calculated by taking all your injuries into account. Usually, the most serious injury would be quantified, and then an element for the lesser injuries would be added in. However, your solicitor will explain how your compensation will be calculated in practice.

Special damages

Unfortunately, people with severe PTSD are sometimes left unable to hold down a regular job, with the result that they may be reliant on benefits and on their loved ones to get through financially. It’s reassuring to know that PTSD compensation claims can include a claim for your loss of earnings – both past and future. Your solicitor will ask you for detailed information about the financial impact of your condition before calculating how much to claim. For example, they will need details of:

  • Loss of earnings if you’ve had to have unpaid time off for treatment or have lost your job
  • Prescription and other medical costs, such as CBT, counselling or other psychiatric therapies
  • Information about opportunities lost, the impact on your future career path, and so on

You can be sure that your solicitor will work hard to negotiate a fair amount of compensation. It may also be possible to secure interim payments if the other side accepts responsibility for your psychological injury. Interim payments can be sought to cover the cost of psychological therapies, such as cognitive behaviour therapy and other psychological therapy.

Where interim payments are agreed, the amount awarded will be deducted from your final settlement.

I’m an ex-serviceman: Am I also entitled to compensation from the government?

If you were or still are a serving member of the armed forces, you may be entitled to make a claim under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. The time limits in which to make a military PTSD claim are more generous than normal rules for personal injury claims: to make a Scheme claim, you have 7 years to make a claim, depending on when the incident happened. It’s important to discuss with your solicitor the possibility of making a claim under the Scheme as soon as you can.

How to make a PTSD claim

If you’re developing PTSD, your first step should be to get in touch with our advisers who are experienced in talking to sufferers of psychological injuries and post traumatic stress disorder. They are used to talking gently through the issues with individuals; and will explain the PTSD claim process in simple terms.

So long as another person or organisation breached a duty of care towards you leading to PTSD, they should be held liable. It is important to speak with a specialist PTSD injury solicitor as soon as possible while events are fresh in your mind. We will arrange this for you.

When you first speak with your solicitor, try to have as much information to hand as possible – including details of any loved ones involved, witnesses to what happened and any photographs of the scene and the impact on you. We strongly suggest that if you haven’t already, you consider keeping a diary of your symptoms and the impact on your life. This will prove important as your claim continues.

If you’re able to, you would also be wise to gather details of any loss of earnings directly related to the accident, and other costs such as travel and the costs of cognitive behavioural therapy. The more information the personal injury solicitors have to support a client’s claim, the greater the chances of securing the maximum amount you deserve – as early as possible.

It will be necessary to obtain an expert psychiatric or psychologist’s report to support your claim. However, you don’t need to worry about this as your solicitor will organise this for you at the appropriate time.

Your lawyer will discuss your case with you, guiding you through the initial steps and advising you of the options, depending on whether the other side admit responsibility. In many cases, PTSD compensation claims can be settled without going to court – and that’s what your solicitor will work towards to avoid court proceedings.

To make the first steps towards your no win no fee claim, call us free advice now and speak to a trained legal advisor on 0800 234 6438 or by filling in this online form. We can partner you with lawyers from a specialist PTSD law firm who can give you free legal advice about making your claim.

How compensation can help you

We know that financial compensation can never unwind the clock or erase traumatic memories from your mind. However, compensation can help ease your recovery and enable you to fund the costs of appropriate psychological therapies and counselling so that you can work towards your recovery.

This may be particularly vital for you if you’ve lost your job, or have had to go part time because of the significant impact of post traumatic stress disorder on your life. If your claim is successful, you can recover lost earnings as well as additional funding to help you take advantage of treatments that are known to help PTSD sufferers. For instance:

  • Counselling and therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Trauma-focused CBT
  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Art therapies
  • Group psychotherapy
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy

Though some of these treatments are available on the NHS, there is likely to be a lengthy waiting list and ‘going private’ is usually expensive. Some forms of treatment are free through local organisation – but with a compensation fund, you will have the financial freedom to take advantage of the right therapy for you, at the right time, even if you have to pay privately.

How much compensation you can recover to help you with rehabilitation and psychological treatment will depends on your unique situation and your future needs.

No win no fee post traumatic stress disorder claims

You do not need to pay out any money in order to begin your PTSD compensation claim. This is because your claim will be taken by your solicitor on a no win no fee basis.

No win no fee claims are made on the basis of a conditional fee agreement between you and your solicitor. It means you won’t have to pay your legal fees if you don’t win your case. Nor will you have to pay any costs upfront – once your personal injury solicitors take on your case, you’ll only need to pay them if you win your case. This removes the financial risk from claiming compensation and means you won’t be left with a bill you can’t afford. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority which is reassuring for anyone bringing a PTSD claim.

If you win your claim for PTSD compensation, you will pay your legal fees by way of what is known as a ‘success fee’. This is a percentage of how much compensation you receive. The exact amount varies depending on how complex your case is, but it will never be more than 25% of the money you receive. You’ll have discussed and agreed the amount with your solicitor before starting your case so you’ll know what you will have to pay.

The law recognises that everyone has the right to compensation after an accident which wasn’t their fault, and no win no fee makes this possible for genuine PTSD cases, regardless of your financial situation.

For more information about how you can make your no win no fee PTSD claim, you can speak to an experienced advisor on 0800 234 6438. And if you decide to go ahead with your claim, we’ll be able to put you in touch with a specialist solicitor with a proven track record in psychological disorder claims who can take you through the next steps.

How long have I got to make a claim?

The general times limits for personal injury claims is that you have three years from the date of the incident to start legal proceedings for personal injury compensation compensation. After three years, you may be ‘time barred’ from making a claim.

However, if you have developed PTSD, the three-year period does not start to run until the date you could reasonably have expected to have known that the incident (such as the traumatic event) caused it. Some PTSD sufferers are acutely ill and do not have mental capacity to bring a claim on their own. In these cases, the three-year time limit does not start to run until the individual regains their mental capacity.

Post traumatic stress disorder can take some time to develop, so if in doubt about whether the time limits prevent you from a claim, don’t assume you can’t bring a claim. We strongly recommend talking things through with specialist solicitors so that you’re aware of your rights.


There were 828,000 cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2019 to 2020, equivalent to 2,440 per 100,000 workers. This was significantly higher than the previous period.

SOURCE: Labour Force Survey (LFS)


A survivor of sexual abuse has won compensation from the Roman Catholic Church for PTSD. The victim had already received compensation for abuse and rape which began when she was 15; but brought a PTSD claim following her treatment by Westminster diocese when she inquired into her case.

SOURCE: The Tablet
DID YOU KNOW: There are three main types of post traumatic stress disorder:
SOURCE: Mental Health UK


A single mum has been awarded £25,000 in compensation for PTSD from Police Scotland following a night-time police raid in a case of mistaken identity. The victim

SOURCE: Daily Record Scotland

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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