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Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claims

Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event can cause psychological trauma. This can lead to a diagnosis of PTSD which is a serious and debilitating illness. PTSD develops in around 20% of people who experience trauma. PTSD can be caused by serious accidents, workplace trauma and medical negligence. If you have suffered PTSD due to someone else’s actions you may be entitled to claim compensation. Our lawyers are experienced in bringing PTSD claims and can advise on whether you have a claim.

A different kind of law firm

At Shoosmiths, our team of personal injury specialists appreciate just how serious PTSD is and the damage it can do to  lives and relationships. With our substantial legal skills and experience, we're here to help make sure that you and your family get the support you need. Part of this process includes supporting you with your PTSD compensation claim so you get the chance to put your life back on track. 

What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a psychological response to distressing, frightening or even life-threatening events. It is a recognised psychiatric disorder.  It's important to know that you don't need to suffer physical injuries to be diagnosed with PTSD although you may suffer physical sensations associated with the condition such as rapid heartbeat, sweating or trembling.  

According to mental health charity Mind, 4 in every 100 people are diagnosed with PTSD in England every week. And it isn't just adults who suffer from this condition. It is estimated that as  many as 1 in 13 British children and young people will suffer from this illness.



What is meant by 'primary' and 'secondary' victim?

If you're directly involved in a traumatic event, this makes you the 'primary victim'. This means that you may be able to make a claim for compensation if you are diagnosed with PTSD.

You can also suffer PTSD if you see someone else being injured or killed in a serious incident. It could include witnessing a car crash that causes the death of a loved one, for example. If this is your experience, you would be referred to as a 'secondary victim' as you aren't directly involved.

You can't claim compensation based on 'normal' feelings of shock, anxiety or grief after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. To make a claim, you must be suffering from a recognised psychiatric  condition – such as PTSD.
Medical negligence solicitor with a client

PTSD claims experts

  • What are the signs and symptoms of PTSD?

    If you (or a loved one) has gone through something traumatic there are common signs and symptoms  that could indicate PTSD. These include things like:

    • Flashbacks, nightmares or reliving (parts of) the traumatic experience
    • Feeling alert, on edge or struggling to sleep at night
    • Amnesia, a need to be distracted, or avoiding feelings
    • Emotions such as anger, distrust, insecurity and guilt

    These symptoms are often a natural response to a traumatic event  but they can start to fade in many people within a few weeks. 

    Symptoms in children can be different than in adults, especially very young children, and can include wetting the bed, being clingy and acting out the frightening event.

    According to the NHS, you should see your GP if you or your child are still experiencing these symptoms after four weeks.

  • How is PTSD diagnosed?

    Your GP will ask you to talk about your symptoms in as much detail as possible. You'll be asked if you've been through a traumatic event in the recent (or even distant) past – and to explain your symptoms.

    If your GP thinks you may be suffering from PTSD, you may be referred to a mental health specialist for formal diagnosis and treatment.  For the purposes of bringing a PTSD claim the diagnosis of PTSD must be made by a psychiatrist. To assess the condition, there are two resources used :

  • What are the different types of PTSD?
    • Delayed-onset
      The complex nature of the illness means you may not experience symptoms until many months or years after the original trauma. This is called delayed-onset PTSD.
    • Complex
      For people who go through trauma at an early age or on a repeated basis (e.g. violence or abuse), this can lead to complex PTSD and can take years to become apparent.
    • Uncomplicated PTSD
      For people who experience a single traumatic event although the symptoms can be very significant.
    • Birth Trauma
      This can develop after a traumatic experience of childbirth.

    If you suffer from PTSD following a traumatic event or if you start to suffer from the condition at some time into the future, you may still be able to make a post-traumatic stress disorder claim. Call us on 0370 086 8687 or you can send us a message.

  • How can PTSD affect someone?

    PTSD can often have a substantial and long-lasting effect on you or a loved one. Even the most routine daily activities can become a real challenge. This is especially the case when something seemingly innocuous leads to a vivid flashback. You might also find that you are reminded of the traumatic event unexpectedly and this can cause great anguish and distress.

    PTSD can stop you leading a 'normal' life if not properly treated. Our PTSD lawyers have first-hand experience of the impact it can have on you. It can:

    • Stop you taking proper care of yourself
    • Affect your relationships and friendships
    • Make it harder to do your job/go to work
    • Disrupt your memory or decision-making

    You also have to tell the DVLA if you're diagnosed with PTSD as it affects your ability to drive.

  • How is PTSD treated?

    If you have mild symptoms of PTSD, an approach called ‘watchful waiting’ may be suggested. It involves keeping an eye on your symptoms to see if they improve or get worse. Most people who experience symptoms after a traumatic event get better without treatment within a few weeks.

    If your PTSD does need treatment, however, the first step will often be psychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy. Medication is also a course of action sometimes available. 


How can Shoosmiths help you?

Life with PTSD can be overwhelming. It can deeply impact any person who is living with the after-effects of a traumatic event. We know – and see – how much PTSD can affect friends and family members too. And we don't believe you should face these challenges alone.

If you or a loved one is now suffering from PTSD and someone else is at fault, you could be able to make a PTSD compensation claim. Our team of personal injury lawyers will provide you with the best legal support and expertise to make sure you get the compensation you need to rebuild your life.

But we don't just focus on PTSD personal injury claims. Our service to you goes much further:

- Helping you get the best therapy and treatment so that you can overcome the challenges you currently face in life

- Putting you in touch with support groups such as Mind or military charities like Forces in the Community and Combat Stress

- Being there for you and your family; a friendly ear that you can depend on and talk to in confidence if you feel it would help

At a time of distress and anxiety, we know that starting a legal claim might seem daunting. But let us put you at ease. We'll deal with all aspects of your PTSD claim. And we're here to answer your questions too – 0370 086 8687 or by send us a message to see what we can do for you, today.

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Why choose Shoosmiths? 

All PTSD claims need to be treated with the utmost care, consideration and dedication. And that is how we work at Shoosmiths. Our PTSD lawyers appreciate just how difficult it can be to come to terms with a traumatic event. But we want to do all we can for you to help put it right.

At each stage of the process, we'll be with you – start to finish. Even once a claim is settled and you receive your PTSD compensation , we'll still be available to help where we can.

If you choose Shoosmiths to support you in making your PTSD claim, you'll be choosing a law firm that:

Above all, one reason you can trust our team is our passion and determination to help families in need. Our track record of working on successful PTSD claims means little without the words from the people we've helped. So, why not see what they have to say – and how we can help you too.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why make a PTSD claim?

    To you or a loved one, it might seem as if bringing a PTSD claim will make little difference. After all, compensation can't turn the clock back or change how you feel. But what we'd say is that a successful PTSD compensation claim can be a real source of help and support.

    It can be the key that unlocks crucial therapy and treatment options to help you get better; to rebuild your life. It can also support you if you lose income or your work prospects are affected by your condition.

    And, when your PTSD is the fault of someone else, it can even have the potential to make sure that lessons are learned. That way, you play an integral role in protecting others from enduring the same trauma and challenges in future.

  • Can you claim compensation for PTSD?

    To make a successful PTSD compensation claim, we must be able to show that you are suffering from PTSD and that this was caused by the traumatic event you have experienced.  We will obtain expert evidence from a psychiatrist to confirm this.  

    We then must prove that someone else is at fault for the traumatic event which caused you to develop PTSD.

    It's also worth knowing that PTSD symptoms may not become serious until long after the initial trauma. The sooner you contact our expert PTSD lawyers, however, the better. We'll provide all the help, advice and support you require as well as preparing a case on your behalf.

    People who suffer PTSD after witnessing a traumatic event involving family members might also be able to bring a claim as a secondary victim although there are limits on who can claim and in what circumstances.

    If you think you may have a PTSD claim, don't delay, call 0370 086 8687 or you can message us today.

  • Can the armed forces or emergency services make a PTSD claim?

    Many people who suffer from PTSD are members of the emergency services or armed forces. If this is the situation that you or a loved one find yourself in, you may be able to make a PTSD claim, although there are limits on who can claim and in what circumstances.

  • How does the PTSD claims process work?

    As awareness of PTSD has grown, more people are successfully claiming for this very real and potentially devastating condition. If we think that you have a strong PTSD claim, our personal injury team can give you the support you need.

    The claims process all starts with a phone call or email. By getting in touch, we'll arrange to speak with you. This lets us learn more about your experience in your own words. After talking and listening to you, we'll be able to tell you if we think you have a claim.

    If we do and you decide to go ahead, the first thing that your PTSD lawyer will do is ask you to undergo a medical examination. This is with an independent consultant – usually a psychiatrist.

    We know this might be distressing. But we do need to know how serious your symptoms are – and how long they might last. This lets us see what immediate help and support you need. It'll also help us to properly work out how much compensation will best meet your future needs.

    Your PTSD lawyer will also contact the person or organisation at fault for your initial trauma. If they don't accept fault and we consider you still have a good claim, we'll start the court process. In reality, all this will mean is that your PTSD claim will be settled by a certain date. It doesn't mean you must go to court and the majority of claims resolve without a court hearing.

  • How many PTSD claims go to court?

    It's actually quite rare for a PTSD claim to go to court. In most cases, claims are settled out of court long before it gets to that stage. If your claim does go to court, however, please be assured that your PTSD claims lawyer will make sure you're ready and prepared for what it will involve.



  • Who are PTSD claims made against?

    A PTSD claim can be made against an individual or a company and is usually dealt with by the other party's insurer. In the case of a road traffic accident involving an uninsured car, or when the other driver can't be traced, it will be made to the Motor Insurers' Bureau.

    For members of the emergency services, your claim will be made against your employer.

    For members of the armed forces, however, PTSD claims are slightly different. You can make a military injury claim through the civil court in certain circumstances.  You can also make a claim to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS). 

    By talking to one of our friendly legal experts, we can help you find out what your options are – and against whom the claim should be brought. For more details, please call 0370 086 8687 or you can send us a message.



  • How much does a PTSD claim cost?

    The last thing you need when making a PTSD claim is the added financial burden of legal action. That's where we may be able to help. At Shoosmiths, our mission is to make sure you can get the legal and financial support you need. So, we may be able to take your case on a No Win No Fee basis. We'll tell you if we can as part of our initial consultation, which is always free.

  • How long does a PTSD claim take?

    How long the claim takes will vary as there are many factors that can influence the time it takes to settle a claim. For example, if the other party doesn't accept fault or you require treatment which you wish to have before settling the claim, these are both situations which can affect the time it takes.

    In any case, our PTSD claims lawyers do all they can to reach a fast and satisfactory outcome. 


  • What other PTSD help and benefits are available?

    Benefits such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Universal Credit, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) may be available. PTSD victims could also claim Housing Benefit and be eligible for Council Tax support and discounts.

    To learn exactly what you're entitled to, visit your local Jobcentre or the website

    For practical support and assistance, however, charities such as Rethink and Mind are often the most helpful. Ex-service personnel can also call on groups such as Forces in the Community or Veterans UK.



  • How long do you have to start a PTSD claim?

    For most personal injury claims, there's a three-year limitation period for bringing a claim which usually runs from the date of the original accident. There are exceptions to this, however. A PTSD claim may be one of them. Our team can let you know if you have a claim and if you're still within any time limit that might apply.

Start the PTSD claims process today

PTSD is a condition that you shouldn't have to face alone. At Shoosmiths, we are the helping hand you can trust. With 13 offices around the UK, our PTSD claims lawyers are here for you – no matter where you are. And it all starts with a free and confidential initial consultation.

To get started or to find out more, call 0370 086 8687 or send us a message today.

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You can trust us to be there for you

Our PTSD claims experts are recognised by organisations like the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. We can also put you in contact with leading therapists and charities such as Mind and Forces in the Community so you can get the right help and support. More importantly, our legal expertise can help you get the compensation you need to rebuild your life after PTSD.


Why Shoosmiths

Who we work with

  • Brain Injury Group
  • Child Brain Injury Trust
  • Headway
  • SIA
  • Back Up
  • Macmillan
  • Danielles Flutterbyes
  • Forces
  • Bens Heroes Trust

Our accreditations

  • Accredited Personal Injury
  • Apil
  • Ama
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Legal 500
  • UK Chambers
  • The Society Of Clinical Injury Lawyers