Court questions claims for travel anxiety

12 Jun 2015

In the case of (1) N S (2) H S v AXA INSURANCE (2014)         

The claim of the first claimant, a two-year-old boy, for damages for injury sustained in a road traffic accident in March 2013, was dismissed as his sole injury was travel anxiety.

On 14 March 2013 the claimants were passengers in a vehicle being driven by their mother but which was stationary at traffic lights when the defendant's insured collided with the rear of the vehicle.

They sustained injury and brought an action against the defendant alleging that the defendant’s insured driver  was negligent in failing to keep a proper look out and properly controlling the vehicle and colliding with the rear of the vehicle. Liability was admitted.

The First claimant suffered travel anxiety which resolved after three months. The Court awarded nil damages.

The judge noted that, in respect of the first claimant, there was no physical injury whatsoever. Furthermore, the only injury was travel anxiety and for there to be a claim in law there had to be a recognisable psychiatric illness. He noted that the medical report fell way short of that. He stated that, "It [was] quite normal for insurance companies, particularly where there [was] some other physical injury, to accept that, together with that physical injury, there should be an additional amount for the travel anxiety." However, in the absence of physical injury or psychiatric illness, he dismissed the first claimant’s claim.

Although this was only a first instance decision it is a useful reminder that such claims, which are not uncommon, are unlikely to succeed.