Woman who suffered PTSD after bin lorry crash loses £215k compensation bid

A student who suffered post-traumatic stress after witnessing the Glasgow bin lorry tragedy has lost her bid for £215,000 compensation.

Danielle Weddle saw parts of the incident unfold in December 2014 and suffered from flashbacks and anxiety.

The economics student was on her Christmas[1] break from her final year at Stirling University on the day of the crash which killed six people.

The All Scotland Personal Injury Court had earlier ruled that because she was not injured in the crash in December 2014 she was not a primary victim and did not qualify for damages.

A sheriff ruled Glasgow City Council[2] could not have reasonably foreseen that lorry driver Harry Clarke would have caused the risk of physical injury to Weddle.

Weddle appealed the decision at the Sheriff Appeal Court in Edinburgh but has now seen her bid rejected by three sheriffs.

Her legal team had argued an earlier ruling rejecting her claim was wrong and should have ruled that she was at risk of physical injury and her fear of being injured was reasonable.

Lawyers for the council said Weddle had never been in the ‘zone of danger’ and was never at risk of being struck by the bin lorry or the taxi.

Sheriff Norman McFadyen, sitting alongside Sheriff Principal Mhairi Stephen QC and Sheriff Sean Murphy QC, upheld the original ruling.

In a written judgment, Sheriff McFadyen[3] said: “It was for the appellant to demonstrate that any fear was reasonable and the sheriff has carefully and at some length explained, under reference to authority, why he concluded that she did not have such a reasonable belief.

“Among other factors justifying his decision he has correctly noted that neither vehicle was ever heading straight towards her, the vehicles did not come particularly close to her, the initial collision took place over 30m at least away from her and the vehicles thereafter were moving relatively slowly and came to rest at least 12m away from her.

“These factors, in our opinion, clearly demonstrated that the appellant had failed to establish that any belief that she did have was a reasonable one.

“We have no doubt that the appellant has suffered significant psychological and psychiatric injury in consequence of the terrible things she saw that day, but we cannot conclude that the sheriff was in error in finding that such injury was not in any way referable to a fear of personal injury to her reasonably held by her at the time of the accident.”

In 2019, Sheriff Kenneth McGowan said he would have awarded the student £214,572.40 for compensation, loss of earnings and university fees had he found in her favour.

References

  1. ^ Christmas (www.glasgowlive.co.uk)
  2. ^ Glasgow City Council (www.glasgowlive.co.uk)
  3. ^ Sheriff McFadyen (www.dailyrecord.co.uk)