Student refused damages over Glasgow bin lorry crash

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Bin lorry crash sceneImage source, PA
Image caption,
Danielle Weddle had been standing near a taxi when it was hit by the bin lorry

A student, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder following the Glasgow bin lorry crash, has been refused compensation.

Danielle Weddle witnessed parts of the incident in which a bin lorry mounted the pavement and caused the deaths of six people in December 2014.

A court has ruled that because she was not hurt she was not a primary victim and did not qualify for damages.

Ms Weddle lost her case against Glasgow City Council.

At the All-Scotland Personal Injury Court, Sheriff Kenneth McGowan held that the council could not have reasonably foreseen that the driving of their employee, Henry Clarke, would have caused the risk of physical injury to Ms Weddle.

He said she had not suffered fear of physical injury to herself at the relevant time.

Image source, Stephen Gibson
Image caption,
The bin lorry crashed outside Queen Street Station in George Square

She therefore did not qualify as a primary victim and could not obtain damages for any psychiatric injury suffered by her.

Sheriff McGowan added that had he found in Ms Weddle's favour, he would have awarded a total of £214,572.40 for compensation, loss of earnings and university fees.

The sheriff explained that claims for mental harm only normally involved large incidents such as Piper Alpha or Hillsborough - where they were directly involved in the accident. These people would be considered primary victims and entitled to damages.

'Not in danger'

It was not disputed that Ms Weddle had suffered mental harm, but the council's position was that she was not a primary victim.

Ms Weddle was on her Christmas break from her final year at Stirling University on the day of the crash.

About 14:30 the bin lorry mounted the pavement in Queen Street and struck pedestrians, buildings, cars and a taxi before coming to a halt against the wall of the Millennium Hotel in George Square.

Image caption,
The Glasgow bin lorry crash happened on 22 December 2014

Ms Weddle had been looking at her phone when the collision with the taxi happened, heard a loud bang, looked up and saw the two vehicles.

The two vehicles were about 40m (131ft) away from her. They moved to within 32m (105ft) from her before the lorry veered off, but the taxi ended up about 12m (39ft) from where she was standing.

At no stage was either vehicle coming directly towards her and at no stage was she in danger of being struck.

In January 2015, she was referred to counselling after continuing to suffer from flashbacks, anxiety and depression and was diagnosed as suffering from PTSD. She still suffers from nightmares.

Sheriff McGowan said there was no dispute that Ms Weddle did suffer from PTSD, but added: "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".