Secondary Victims are Often Forgotten

A newly married couple are expecting their first child. The couple have attended all prenatal scans and have been informed that they are due to become parents to a baby girl.

Two weeks before the baby’s due date, the heavily pregnant mother wakes up to find spots of blood on her bedsheets. Terrified and in a panic, the mother calls her husband who rushes home from work to take her to hospital.

On arrival at hospital, doctors and nurses rush frantically around the mother. However, it is made clear shortly afterwards that the baby girl has died. The mother of the deceased baby now has to endure the terrible indignity of giving birth to her stillborn daughter – whilst her father looks on in the corner.

This was not a tragic accident. The medical team mismanaged the birth. The father tries to stay strong for his wife, thinking quite rightly about what she has just had to endure. He internalises his feelings- until he cannot keep them in any more.

The man consequentially develops a psychiatric injury occurring as a result of the serious physical injury caused to his wife. A person bringing such a claim is termed a ‘secondary victim’. His wife, having been directly involved in the mismanaged birth, is the ‘primary victim’. Both are victims and neither of them are more of a victim than the other.

Yet secondary victims are often forgotten by none other than themselves. They often face the moral dilemma of not being able to feel self pity, as the horrific event did not happen to them.

The fact remains that they too deserve to be compensated. If you have been exposed to a tragedy affecting a loved one, do not think that they are the only victims. You may be one too.

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