Besides the immediately apparent effects, such as physical injuries or death, serious accidents may cause nervous shock in others than the primary victims. Nervous shock is psychological damage caused by traumatic incidents involving loved ones. In addition to the immaterial loss, also called non-economic damages, persons sustaining nervous shock may claim loss of income, if they are unable to do their work.
Nervous shock can occur after the traumatic incident, for instance when the bodies of deceased victims have to be identified.
There is a difference between immaterial loss caused by the confrontation with an incident or its immediate impact (‘nervous shock’) and immaterial loss following the death or injury of loved ones (‘emotional loss’). In the Netherlands damages are awarded only for the former, nervous shock following the confrontation with a traumatic incident. The loss caused by the death or serious injuries of family members (‘emotional loss’) does not yet qualify for compensation. Recently, the Upper House adopted the legislative proposal on hedonic damages. The act will be taking effect on 1 January 2019. For more information, please read our article on this legislative proposal on hedonic damages (in Dutch).
Beer advocaten represented the victim in the well-known Taxibus (or Kindertaxi) case. This was the first time that a Dutch court awarded damages for nervous shock. Beer advocaten currently advises Bauke Vaatstra, who was confronted with the lifeless body of his murdered daughter Marianne. Read here.