Our office is based in George Square and we heard the chaos after the bin lorry crash in December 2014. One of our staff members witnessed the crash seconds after it happened. Our phones were ringing off the hook with anxious family members wanting to know their loved ones were safe.
Danielle Weddle, a student, who observed the immediate aftermath of the incident where the bin lorry, driven by Harry Clark, mounted the pavement in Queen Street, striking pedestrians, buildings, cars and a taxi before coming to a halt against the wall of the Millennium Hotel in George Square causing the death of six people, has raised an action against Glasgow City Council for damages.
Ms Weddle was a student at the time and has since been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and continues to suffer nightmares. She was referred to counselling in January 2015 and was seen by a clinical psychologist.
The case was heard by Sheriff Kenneth McGowan earlier last month. He was told that the Pursuer was in her final year of an economics degree course at Stirling University and had returned to Glasgow by train for the Christmas holidays. She left Queen Street Station and was looking at her phone when she heard a loud bang looked up and saw the bin lorry and taxi. The Pursuer moved along the pavement of George Street where she saw two dead bodies.
The Pursuer’s case was that she was a primary victim and as such fell within the class of persons entitled to recover damages.
Clinical psychologist, Dr Fraser Morrison, gave evidence that Ms Weddle suffered from PTSD and that her symptoms were “at the top end of the severity spectrum”. However it was not disputed that the Pursuer had suffered mental harm but it was disputed that she was a primary victim.
Sheriff McGowan in a written judgement stated “I am satisfied that the pursuer did suffer PTSD-this was not in dispute. However I am not satisfied that she was in fear of physical injury at the relevant time. If she did suffer fear at some stage that was attributable to the horror of the aftermath of the incident and not to the terror of the accident involving the bin lorry and the silver taxi.”
He added “the pursuer did not in fact suffer fear of physical injury to herself at the relevant time: and that accordingly, the pursuer does not qualify as a primary victim and she cannot therefore obtain damages for psychiatric injury suffered by her”.
Had the court found in favour of the Pursuer, the Sheriff would have awarded a total of £214,572.40 for solatium, loss of earnings and university fees.