The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) says the current law for people suffering from psychiatric harm after witnessing the deaths or injuries of loved ones is “archaic and inflexible”.
The current law is in place following the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
APIL president Matthew Stockwell, told a group of peers and MPs at a reception in the House of Commons on 6 March that people suffering after having seen those close to them in distress are subjected to unfair and unrealistic demands to prove they are eligible to make a claim for compensation to help put their lives back on track.
“In almost every case people have to prove they had a close tie of love and affection with the person who was killed or injured, which is extremely intrusive, especially when someone is distressed or grieving,” he said.
“These people are not just a bit upset,” he went on. “And they can’t claim if their loved one was killed in a genuine accident. But if the death or injury happened because of negligence, and real psychiatric harm is suffered as a result, then the person who suffers that harm should be able to claim compensation without jumping through unrealistic legal hoops.
He added that medical science had learned much about psychiatric injury in the 25 years since the Hillsborough disaster, and that it was now widely accepted that psychiatric illness was every bit as debilitating as a physical injury.
"It’s time for change to help those left behind after tragedies which should never have happened,” said Stockwell.