If only I had a heart! The Australian Case of Annetts and the Internationally Confounding Question of Compensation in Nervous Shock Law

Halstead Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
UTS Law Review, 2006, 7 (1), pp. 157 - 183
Issue Date:
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The question of when to award compensation for nervous shock is one faced by many jurisdictions across the common law world, yet approaches to the issue have been markedly divergent. This is particularly apparent in the context of secondary victims (such as parents) who bring an action for nervous shock suffered as a result of the serious injury or death of a loved one (such as a child) in a traumatic event. In this area of law a key requirement for recovery has been that of sudden sensory perception of the ill-fated event or at least the aftermath of the event which caused the death or serious injury of the loved one. This requirement is a legal one, and one not grounded in science. Shock has enabled the law to draw boundaries around the potential for indeterminate liability in this area, and has led to the technical exclusion of parents who may have suffered even agonisingly protracted awareness of their loved ones fate.
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