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Title: Landmark success for fiance who was secondary victim

Amount: £15,000

At the time of her partner's accident (see £810,000 amputation case summary) Michelle Smith and James Moore had been engaged and living together for 6 months. James was knocked off his motorcycle by a lady driving on the wrong side of the road and sustained multiple injuries including a severe injury to his lower right limb which later led to amputation. Michelle appeared at the scene of the accident and witnessed the aftermath. As a result of the horrific scene she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with associated nightmares and flashbacks.

Michelle was advised by us to submit a claim as a Secondary Victim, James having been the Primary Victim.This was somewhat of a test case because the couple were not married nor had they been living together for 2 years (common law wife). Nonetheless we decided that if the claim were to be rejected we would take it all the way to try and change the law to enable engaged partners to claim like a wife or husband can. Ultimately the third party insurer settled without the need for court proceedings. However we are confident that a court would be sympathetic to similar circumstances in future cases.

We had to satisfy the following test:

1. The Claimant must have perceived the shocking event (aftermath of James' accident) first hand - this was satisfied.
2. The shock must be a sudden assault on the the Claimant's psychiatric system and must not as a result of a gradual accumulation of events over time - this was satisfied.
3. The Claimant must be able to show a ‘close tie of love and affection’ towards the primary victim. This was the difficult bit as to date case law has dictated the secondary victim must either be married to the primary victim or have been co-habiting for at least 2 years.
4. It must be reasonably foreseeable that a person of ‘normal fortitude’ would have suffered psychiatric damage - this was satisfied.

Michelle received £15,000 compensation and the third party insurer paid for a course of counseling for her.

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