A PTSD compensation award of €87,000 has been approved for a woman who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to seeing a partly decapitated body of a motorist when she arrived at the scene of a road traffic accident.
The woman in question, Lisa Sheehan, began to experience moderately severe PTSD and had to resign from her hairdressing job two years after the accident took place. She did not believe that she was in a position to continue with her duties.
From Banteer in north Cork, 36-year-old married mother of two Mrs Sheean submitted the lawsuit against Bus Éireann and FBD insurance which provided cover for the deceased motorist.
She informed the judge that she still has bad dreams and flashbacks of the incident. She said that her condition placed great strain on her relationships and she still attends counselling and medication sessions. She claimed that this suffering is a result of the negligent operation or control of both the bus and the car. Bus Éireann did not accept the negligence claims while FBD accepted that the accident was caused by the negligence of the deceased car driver.
However, both defendants informed the Court that they did not believe that Ms Sheehan’s psychiatric injuries did not give rise to any cause of action recognised by current legislation and, as such, they did not owe her a duty of care.
When the accident took place on January 28, 2017, Ms Sheehan was heading from work in Cork city to her home. When she was coming close to Mallow her car hit some debris and she came to a stop. She then saw the damaged bus and the severely damaged car which had hit it near by. When she went over to the the car she found “a badly disfigured and partly decapitated body”.
She contacted the emergency services and reviewed the surrounding area for others who might have been involved in the accident and eventually identified the bus driver whose face was covered in blood.
In relation to the legal claims that the defendants were registering, the judge said the law on primary/secondary victims is far from definitive in this jurisdiction. He went on to say that, while in his opinion nothing turned on that division in this case, he was happy Ms Sheehan was a primary victim as her car had been struck by debris from the crash.
He then awarded her €87,238 PTSD compensation in relation to her claim.