Could a police officer claim damages for psychiatric injury after attending a fatal accident? Which case won?
Police officer attends motor vehicle accident
A Queensland police officer attended a motor vehicle accident in 2013 involving a car driver who was speeding and intoxicated with amphetamines and cannabis at the time of the collision.
The policeman attended the scene and tried to keep the driver alive with first aid and encouragement. He was the first officer on the scene, having arrived earlier than the ambulance paramedics and the fire brigade.
The police officer had to deal with the arrival of the driver’s parents at the scene of the accident and had to indicate to them that their son would not survive. The driver’s parents had to say goodbye to him at the accident scene.
The fact of having to deal with the driver’s parents added an extra level of trauma for the policeman, over and above the trauma of dealing with the driver’s injuries, which proved to be fatal.
Policeman develops PTSD and makes claim for damages
The police officer developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of what he witnessed at the motor vehicle accident scene. He made a claim under Queensland’s Motor Accident Insurance Act for psychiatric injuries that he sustained while dealing with the horrific circumstances of the accident and the parents of the driver.
The insurer denied liability for the claim and the matter proceeded for determination before the Queensland Supreme Court.