A comprehensive guide to proving psychiatric injury


The law on claiming for a psychiatric injury isn’t as simple as making a claim for a physical personal injury.

There are legal grey areas around psychiatric injury claims as you will need to have evidence that proves the injury was as a result of the accident or negligence. This is far more complex than proving a physical injury, such as a broken limb, that was caused by an accident. Psychological injury, however, can be just as life-changing as physical trauma.

If you’re dealing with a psychiatric injury claim, read on to learn more about the evidence needed to prove the injury and how MAPS Medical Reporting can support you.

Psychiatric injury definition

A psychiatric injury is when the person has suffered a mental trauma as a result of an accident, sudden shock or a traumatic event. Examples of psychiatric injuries are Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Adjustment Disorder and depression.

Symptoms of a psychiatric injury caused by an accident or a traumatic event include:

- Nightmares or flashbacks of the incident

- Insomnia

- Anxiety

- Panic attacks

- Agoraphobia

- Hypervigilance

- Suicidal thoughts.

What medical evidence can be provided?

In a psychiatric injury claim, you will need to prove that the defendant breached their duty of care and caused your client’s psychiatric injury; medical evidence is essential to enable you to prove that this breach of duty resulted in psychiatric injury to the victim.

Depending on the nature and degree of the psychiatric injury it may be appropriate to obtain a medical report from either a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Both are able to give expert medico-legal evidence in a legal claim for damages. In a clinical setting psychiatrists and psychologists can be part of the same healthcare team but they have different roles.

In medico-legal terms, it is important to remember the difference between the two specialisms. A psychiatrist is medically qualified, so will have spent 5-6 years training as a doctor and will then have worked as a doctor in general medicine and surgery before undertaking further specialist training in helping people with psychological problems.

Psychologists have a degree in psychology, not medicine. Even Chartered Clinical Psychologists are not usually medically trained doctors. However, they do undertake a long and robust training following their psychology degree to enable them to work with people with mental health issues.

The decision in a personal injury claim whether to instruct a psychiatrist or a psychologist is a technical one depending on the fact and circumstances in each particular case. It is important to make the right choice to ensure that you have the right evidence to support the claim but also because of the different costs of obtaining the different types of report.

How can we help?

At MAPS Medical Reporting, we can help you make the right choice for your case; we have an extensive database of both psychiatrists and psychologists who specialise in medico-legal expert report writing for psychiatric injuries. Located across the UK, our panel holds in-depth knowledge spanning the disciplines of psychiatry and psychology.

We can swiftly locate and instruct a medical expert within close proximity to your client who can assess their mental health and recommend any ongoing treatment or therapy they may need. The expert will then prepare a medico-legal report compiling all of their findings, to use in court as evidence to prove the link between the events and the psychological symptoms and how these are likely to recover over time; this will help to inform the appropriate level of compensation for your client.