What is the difference between a "secondary victim" and a "first victim"?

British Columbia, Canada


The following excerpt is from Falbo v. Coutts, 2000 BCSC 434 (CanLII):

The distinction between these two types of cases has been recognized in this province. In Devji v. Burnaby (District), 1999 BCCA 599, a “secondary victim” case (although not referred to in those terms), McEachern C.J.B.C. at paragraphs 2 and 77 wrote as follows: Because [in “secondary victim” cases] the plaintiff is not physically injured, and may not even come into contact with the defendant, the psychiatric injury alleged is an extra step removed from the negligence of the defendant, and difficult questions of proximity and duty of care arise. ... ... I am constrained by authorities binding upon me to decide that the experience the plaintiffs endured, grievous as it must have been for them, was not one that falls within the requirements of the law relating to the circumstances in which persons who are not physically injured are entitled to damages for nervous shock.

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