Suicide witness compensation - one of the last due to government cuts26 September 2014
Thompsons Solicitors and ASLEF secure compensation for train driver left psychologically traumatised after moving train hits member of the public in an apparent suicide.
A train driver who was left psychologically traumatised after he hit a member of the public who stood in front of his moving train in an apparent suicide has been one of the last to secure compensation under the 2012 CICA scheme, of £8,200, after help from Thompsons and his union, ASLEF.
The driver, employed by Cross Country Trains, was driving his train through a railway crossing at speed when a person stood on the tracks in front of his train.
One of hundreds of drivers every year who experience the horror of being unable to avoid an impact, the driver was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and travel anxiety. His mental illness was so debilitating that he was unable to work for six months, and when he returned, he could do so only on limited duties.
As a result of his experience the driver contacted his union, ASLEF, who instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim of compensation for their member.
The extent of the driver’s trauma was never in doubt and Thompsons were able to secure the member compensation under old rules of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority Scheme (CICA), a government scheme, which compensates the innocent victims of a crime of violence.
The sum of £8,200 is one of the highest ever secured from the CICA in suicide cases but will be one of the last, following a cut by the current government in 2012 that excluded train drivers from claiming any compensation for physical or mental injuries sustained during the course of their employment.
The ASLEF member said: “This incident has had an unimaginable impact on my life. I am still absolutely devastated, and for a period of time it caused me to completely shut myself away from my day-to-day life. The experience was horrific and left me anxious and claustrophobic while travelling, which completely limited my ability to work. I found it particularly difficult to go out socially. Thompsons were very understanding and supportive throughout and I really cannot thank them and ASLEF enough for their help.”
Lisa Shaw, from Thompsons Solicitors, who represented the member, said: “Suicides on the tracks are tragic, and the impact on innocent train drivers who simply happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time is horrific. That’s why it is so important that drivers, like my client, receive the right level of support and don't lose out financially, it's simply not their fault and there is nothing they can do to avoid the impact.
“This government’s changes to CICA will mean that while we were able to secure this client a settlement, other drivers will now be left with very little support and no compensation.”
Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers' union, said: “There are on average more than 200 suicides a year on the railways and these incidents cause huge trauma for the driver involved and their families.
“While we are pleased that Thompsons were able to secure our member such a favourable settlement, this government’s shameful changes to CICA mean protection for other drivers will simply not be there. Vulnerable train drivers will no longer get the compensation they deserve.”
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