Nervous Shock Claims: Lisa Sheehan v Bus Éireann/Irish Bus and Vincent Dowe


In January 2017 the Plaintiff was driving when she came across an accident, she did not witness the accident however some debris hit her car and she described witnessing a partial decapitated body at the scene. She claimed she had developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of this and missed work for an initial period of five weeks and thereafter for further short periods. She subsequently left her job as a hairdresser in February 2019, claiming it was due to the effect the accident.


The Defendant did not dispute the accident, nor call any witnesses and medical evidence was agreed.


The Plaintiff satisfied the first four of five principles test from Kelly v Hennessy which were;


  1. She suffered a recognisable psychiatric injury.
  2. The injury was shock induced.
  3. It was caused by the Defendant’s negligence.
  4. There is an actual or, in this case apprehended physical injury.


The fifth principle was whether or not the Defendant owed the Plaintiff a duty of care not to cause a reasonably foreseeable psychiatric injury. Mr. Justice Keane found that that there was a duty of care owed to the Plaintiff not to cause an unreasonably foreseeable injury in the form of a psychiatric arose.


The Court found that the Defendant was liable for the Plaintiff’s injuries suffered as a result of witnessing the Defendant’s own injuries and she was awarded general damages of €65,000 and €20,000 into the future.


Niamh O’Connor

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