Q&A - Do health issues brought on by cellmate hanging himself warrant an injury claim?

Q: My son is serving a prison sentence in jail in Liverpool. He has been a model prisoner since being convicted and was looking forward to early release. Tragically, a few weeks ago, one of the people he was sharing a cell with hung himself.  Even worse, my son had to help the prison officers take down his body.

This was such a traumatic experience for him to have to go through and he is still very distressed. In fact I think he is suffering PTSD as a result of having to go through the experience as he both looks and feels very unwell.  Is there anything he can do about this?   

A:  This is one of those dreadful situations that any of us could find ourselves in.   Helping the prison officers to take down his body is, however, something that your son will have done out of a sense of duty to his cellmate and general public spiritedness – as would be the case with any of us. It is unlikely that the effects which you believe he is suffering in the aftermath of the event would be viewed as being the fault of the prison. 

Unless your son had a particular vulnerability from something that had gone on in his earlier life there is no basis for a claim against the prison in this circumstance.

It may be that your son could be helped by some specialist counselling though, and this is something that he should request from the prison.  If the prison do not assist with this then he should make a complaint on a COMP1 form.  Free advice agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to assist him in prison with this.

Article 06/05/2019

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham

Claire Parfitt

Claire Parfitt

Senior Solicitor

Senior Solicitor within our Civil Litigation team in Wrexham and Oswestry