Posted: April 10th, 2020
A PTSD compensation award of €87,000 has been awarded to a person who arrived at a horrific road traffic accident scene where she viewed the partly decapitated body of a motorist involved in a bus crash.
The woman in question, Lisa Sheehan, now suffers from moderately severe PTSD and had to give up her hairdressing job two years after the accident took place as she felt unable to maintain the position. Mr Justice David Keane awarded her €87,238 compensation in relation her suffering as a result of the incident. The 36-year-old married mother of two, who lives at Banteer in north Cork, took the personal injury compensation case against Bus Éireann and FBD insurance which provided insurance cover for the deceased motorist.
Ms Sheehan informed the presiding judge that she still has nightmares and flashbacks, her condition placed great strain on her relationships and she must attend counselling and medication sessions for the sake of her mental health. She told the court that this suffering was caused due to the negligent operation or control of both the bus and the car. Bus Éireann did not accept the negligence claims while FBD admitted the accident was caused by the negligence of the deceased car driver.
Both defendants informed the judge that they were of the opinion that Ms Sheehan’s psychiatric injuries did not give rise to any cause of action recognised by the law and they did not owe her a duty of care in relation to her suffering.
When the accident took place on January 28, 2017, Ms Sheehan was driving home from work in Cork city, having finished her work shift for the day. As she was nearing Mallow her car struck some debris and she came to a complete halt. She noticed the damaged bus and the severely damaged car which had hit it not far away. When she examined the scene more closely car she discovered “a badly disfigured and partly decapitated body”.
She contacted the emergency services and started to examine the the surrounding area for others who might have been involved in the accident. She eventually located the bus driver whose face was covered in blood.
The judge, referring to the legal arguments that the defendants were making, said that it was his opinion that the law on primary/secondary victims is far from settled in this jurisdiction. He continued, while in his view nothing turned on that division in this case, he was happy that Ms Sheehan was a primary victim as her car had been struck by debris from the road traffic accident.