Psychiatric Injury & Mental Health Negligence Claims

Psychiatric Injury & Mental Health Negligence Claims

Doctors and medical professionals have a legal duty to put the best interests of their patients first, to treat their patients with respect and consideration, and to provide a decent standard of care at all times.

This duty applies whether the patient’s ailments are physical or psychiatric, and if you suffer an injury as a result of negligent psychiatric treatment, you may be able to make a psychiatric injury claim.

With an estimated 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health problems every year, it seems that psychiatric care is falling far behind the quality of care available for physical ailments.

At the forefront of the issue, a lack of funding for mental health services in the UK is significantly limiting doctors’ and medical professionals’ abilities to provide sufficient psychiatric care to those who need it. Although mental health makes up 28% of the ‘disease burden’ in England, only 13% of public funding is set aside for psychiatric care services.

Too many psychiatric care providers are overworked and undervalued. The unfortunate result is long delays in assessments, referrals, and treatment within reasonable timeframes and individuals slipping through the cracks, sometimes resulting in tragedy.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury or fatal loss as a result of psychiatric treatment because a medical professional:

  • Failed to diagnose you, diagnosed you incorrectly, or delayed diagnosing you
  • Delayed referring you for further assessment or treatment
  • Prescribed inappropriate medication or kept you on medication for much longer than needed
  • Failed to assess whether there are any physical reasons for your psychiatric condition
  • Failed to follow up care and treatment or failed to review your condition on a regular basis
  • Ignored or failed to notice any risk of suicide or expressions of suicidal thoughts and feelings

Then our skilled and compassionate psychiatric injury specialist solicitors can advise you on making a civil court claim. Depending on the severity of the harm, you could receive significant compensation for physical injury, psychiatric injury (such as the onset or worsening of mental health conditions), financial loss (such as loss of earnings), or loss of quality of life.

For confidential and sympathetic advice regarding psychiatric injury claims, get in touch with our medical negligence lawyers by calling 0333 123 9099 or emailing

Our medical negligence solicitors’ expertise

We have extensive experience helping clients affected by the underfunding of NHS health services, resulting in cases of delayed diagnosis or delayed treatment, failure to refer, and failure to follow-up or review on a regular basis.

We can assist in matters involving mental and psychiatric conditions or symptoms, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Stress
  • Postnatal Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Mania or hypomania
  • Cyclothymia
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
  • Schizoaffective Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Psychosis
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Suicidal thoughts, feelings, and ideations

Our specialist psychiatric injury solicitors understand how frustrating and upsetting it is to suffer unnecessary harm due to the actions or inactions of someone else, or, in some cases, the tragic loss of a family member due to suicide because health practitioners did not respond to cries for help.

Medical negligence compensation claims can be stressful. We understand that you may feel wary about exposing yourself to further trauma. We also understand that if you are representing a loved one who has taken their own life as a result of mental health medical negligence, you are probably grieving. You may want answers, and an inquest can help to find out what happened and what, if anything, could have been done to prevent the loss.

Our goal is to conduct your claim sensitively but smoothly and efficiently. We always tailor our approach according to your individual circumstances as well as handling every aspect of the psychiatric injury claim on your behalf, taking the weight off you as much as possible. 

In some cases, the NHS trust or private treatment provider responsible for your injuries will be keen to settle the matter amicably, meaning you probably won’t have to start legal action.

What constitutes medical negligence arising out of psychiatric treatment?

To prove a medical negligence claim, you must fulfil the following four elements:

  • Duty of care – the medical professional owed a duty of care to treat you properly and not cause injury. This is usually easy to prove as it’s well established that medical professionals owe their patients a duty of care
  • Breach of duty – the medical professional failed to take proper care of you, breaching their duty of care
  • Damage or injury – you’ve received an injury or suffered loss. For example, your mental health condition has deteriorated, and you cannot work, reducing your quality of life and causing loss of earnings
  • Causation – the medical professional’s breach of duty must have caused your injury, and the causation was foreseeable. For example, a failure to refer you for psychiatric treatment has caused your mental health condition to deteriorate, leading to psychological injury and subsequent harm.

Sometimes these elements can be difficult to prove. However, our medical negligence solicitors have extensive knowledge and experience of the law of medical negligence and will give you reliable and practical advice on the merits of your claim. We will also instruct experts to provide opinions on the appropriate care that should have been provided.

Can you claim compensation for misdiagnosis of a mental health condition?

It is possible to claim compensation for mental health medical negligence where you have been misdiagnosed.

Mental health misdiagnosis claims can be difficult to prove, so having the advice of a psychiatric injury specialist is essential. As with other psychiatric injury claims, you need to prove that a duty of care existed, that duty was breached when you were misdiagnosed, and that the breach of duty caused you harm. Examples of misdiagnosis mental health negligence might include:

  • Your doctor missed symptoms of a mental health condition and did not diagnose you
  • Your doctor failed to refer you to a specialist such as a psychiatrist for a mental health assessment
  • You were discharged from the hospital too early
  • You were given inappropriate medication

All these things must have caused you harm (such as worsening your mental health or resulting in a mental health condition) for you to be able to make a mental health misdiagnosis claim.

Can you claim compensation for psychiatric injuries and negligence resulting in death?

If someone dies due to psychiatric medical negligence, you may be able to claim compensation on their behalf of their estate and for your family.

For example, if a mental health trust fails to provide the proper care to someone with severe mental health conditions and they take their own life, this could be clinical negligence.

When someone dies due to negligence, whether from physical injuries or psychiatric injuries, their claims for compensation remain. The representatives for their estate (their executors or administrators) can bring a compensation claim on behalf of the deceased person’s estate for things like pain and suffering before they died.

The deceased person’s family can also bring their own claim for the loss, including a statutory ‘bereavement award’, compensation for loss of income, compensation to replace any benefits the deceased provided for the family (such as pension benefits), and funeral costs.

What is the time limit for medical negligence claims?

All personal injury claims, including medical negligence claims for psychiatric injuries, must be brought within three years of the negligence. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including:

  • Children – under 18’s cannot bring a claim themselves and must have a litigation friend to bring the claim on their behalf. The litigation friend can make a claim at any point until the child turns 18, and then the child has three years (until they are 21 years old) to make a claim themselves.
  • Adults lacking mental capacity – where a person lacks the mental capacity to understand what bringing a claim means or the effect of bringing a claim, there is no time limit (unless the person recovers capacity, then the three-year clock starts ticking). Being diagnosed with a psychiatric condition is not the same as lacking mental capacity, and we can provide practical advice on whether a person is likely to lack mental capacity.
  • Death – if negligence occurs and the injured person later dies, the three-year limitation will start running from the date of death rather than the date the negligence occurred.

In many medical negligence cases, particularly where the injury is psychiatric, the courts understand that you may not realise the negligence occurred until later. As such, in these situations, the three-year limitation will only start running once you acquire knowledge of the negligence.

However, to avoid any possibility of being time-barred, we recommend that you get in touch with our psychiatric injury lawyers as soon as possible after you realise or suspect that negligence has taken place.

How do you make a claim for medical negligence relating to psychiatric treatment?

Our medical negligence solicitors can handle every aspect of your claim on your behalf, including:

  • free initial consultation to discuss your claim and your potential options for proceeding.
  • If necessary, we can obtain your medical records and other relevant details of your medical history.
  • Preparing evidence bundles and arranging the services of a medical expert to prepare a report and give evidence on the standards of care provided to you.
  • Drafting a detailed letter of claim to your healthcare provider (such as the relevant NHS trust) in accordance with the Civil Pre-Action Protocol.
  • If your healthcare provider denies your claim or does not offer acceptable compensation, we can start court proceedings on your behalf.

What compensation can you get for injury arising out of psychiatric treatment?

If your healthcare provider is found liable for your injuries, you could receive substantial compensation for:

  • Physical or psychiatric injury
  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Treatment
  • The costs of any long-term care or home help

The exact amount you receive will depend on the severity of your injuries and the impact on your quality of life, and we can provide expert advice on the amount you may be able to claim.

Why choose IBB Claims’ medical negligence lawyers?

At IBB Claims, we are specialist personal injury solicitors with wide-ranging expertise across all types of personal injury compensation claims, including injuries arising from psychiatric treatment.   

We are accredited by the Law Society in Personal Injury for our work representing clients who have suffered harm or death due to the negligence of another person.

Several of our team are members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), including Malcolm Underhill (who is an APIL Fellow) and Simon Pimlott.

We are also accredited in the Law Society’s Lexcel scheme for our pragmatic, efficient, and reliable case management, high standards of client care, and cost-effective services.

IBB Claims is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

How do No Win No Fee medical negligence claims work?

Everyone should get the opportunity to obtain justice for the personal injuries they suffer as a result of medical negligence. Therefore, we take most of our cases on a No Win No Fee basis.

With No Win No Fee (also referred to as conditional fee agreements), you pay no legal fees upfront, and if your claim is unsuccessful, we won’t charge you a penny.

If your case is successful, the cost will be a percentage of only some of the compensation we obtain on your behalf.

Get in touch with our medical negligence solicitors today

For confidential and sympathetic advice about injuries arising from psychiatric treatment, get in touch with our medical negligence lawyers by calling 0333 123 9099 or emailing

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  • Malcolm Underhill
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