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Damages - Psychiatric injury - Underlying medical condition - Award of general and special damages

Posted 17/11/2016

Facts: The action arose out of an accident wherein the plaintiff was trapped in a lift for a short period due to the malfunctioning of the doors of the lift. The plaintiff contended that the plaintiff was entitled to damages because of the psychiatric injury suffered by the plaintiff due to being trapped in the lift. The plaintiff contended that the plaintiff had a reaction to the accident, which was out of norm due to the underlying conditions of claustrophobia, and anxiety, which had existed since the plaintiff’s childhood. The defendants contended that an irrational fear of suffering an injury in future, which gave rise to psychiatric symptoms, could not be compensated in damages. 
Held: Mr. Justice Barr awarded general damages to the plaintiff. The Court further awarded special damages in respect of counselling and travel expenses, both to date and into the future to the plaintiff. The Court held that the accident had caused the plaintiff to suffer psychiatric injury from being trapped in the lift. The Court accepted that the extent of that injury was somewhat out of the norm, because the plaintiff had suffered from claustrophobia as a child. The Court found that the accident caused worsening or resurfacing of the underlying medical condition, which the plaintiff had suffered as a child.
Dicker, Marie v The Square Management Limited and anor
7/10/2016 No. 2016/5401 P [2016] IEHC 570

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