The High Court made a record award to a mother whose only son was killed in a road traffic accident. In Purcell –v- Long [2015] IEHC385 €225,000 was awarded as general damages for pain and suffering to date and into the future which is a substantial increase in compensation previously awarded by the Courts for nervous shock/psychiatric injury.


The mother was informed of the death of her son and said she never recovered from the shock. She suffered an acute stress reaction, became profoundly depressed and suicidal as a result and never recovered from this. The mother had previously suffered moderate depression and had periods of time on medication. The Defendant’s doctor said the mother had a recurring depressive disorder and she was a vulnerable person at the time of the accident. He was also of the view that the mother would have remained prone to depressive episodes regardless of the loss of her son.

The decision

Mr. Justice Barr found that the mother suffered severe nervous shock as a result of the death of her son, and severe depression as a result. Her previous psychiatric history had rendered her vulnerable to further injury when she received the distressing news of the death of her only son. He accepted that the mother will require heavy medication, will not be fit for employment and will suffer from depression into the future. She was awarded damages of €125,000 to date, and €100,000 damages for the future.

As the mother was a vulnerable person at the time of the injury, the Defendant is responsible for the extent of the injury inflicted on her under the “eggshell skull rule” in law.

This is a summary of recent legal development and comprehensive legal advice should be obtained if an injury has occurred. If you have a personal injury or medical negligence claim and have any question, please contact Deirdre Farrell, partner, Amorys Solicitors, telephone 01 213 5940 or your usual contact at Amorys

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, it has been provided for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Amorys Solicitors is a boutique commercial and private client law firm in Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland.

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