Negligence, Psychiatric Loss, Economical Loss & Occupiers Liability

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In this leaflet I will describe the law of negligence and occupier’s liability, economic loss and psychiatric loss.

Negligence is when somebody has a duty of care and that duty is breached. Negligence is split into 3 parts.

Duty of Care
In certain situations, a duty of care is owed to another person. For example, a surgeon owes a duty of care to whoever they operate on. The existence of a duty of care is established by the Neighbour Test which was brought in by Lord Aitken after the Donoghue v Stevenson case; In the Donoghue v Stevenson case, Ms Donoghue was bought a ginger beer by a friend, and drank it, unknown to her, there was a snail in that ginger beer. She wanted to claim for damages but she did not buy the ginger beer so she couldn’t. instead, she sued the manufacturer, rightfully claiming they owed her a duty of care. This is how the neighbor test was born. The neighbor test states;

"The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes m law you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer's question” Who is my ' neighbour?" receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who then in law is my neighbour? The answer seems to be persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question." * Lord Aitken, 1932 (Donoghue vs. Stevenson)

Reasonable foreseeability is when it is reasonable to assume that there will be injury/harm in a certain situation. This is best explained using Jolley vs. Sutton London Borough Council. In this case, a 14 year old boy was playing on a boat which had not been moved by the Council, the boat fell on the boy and he was paralyzed. It is obvious that the Council knew that by leaving a boat there and not moving on it, children would come and play on/near it, and it would be reasonably foreseeable that there would be injury/harm or even a fatality. Not Reasonably Foreseeable is when the likelihood of injury/harm or damage is low and cannot be foreseen. An example of this is in Bourhill vs. Young 1943, this case is when a motorcyclist (Young) was going too fast and crashed into a car and consequently died. A pregnant woman (Bourhill) was around 50 yards away when the crash happened and she heard it, she came over to see what had happened and saw the blood running down the road and suffered from shock, causing her baby to be stillborn. Although the actions of Young consequently resulted in the stillborn, the Court decided that he didn’t owe her a duty of care as it was not reasonably foreseeable that a pregnant woman would be affected by negligent driving, but the motorcyclist did owe the car driver a duty of care (along with other road users).

Breach of Duty
A breach of duty is when you do not uphold your duty of care that you owe towards somebody and because of that an incident happens causing harm, loss or even death is some cases. A breach is established by the Reasonable Man test, which is a test which identifies whether you have taken actions which a reasonable man would not. Other things are taken into account such as the likelihood of injury, when the likely hood of injury is high then more caution is needed, this is best represented in Bolton vs Stone 1951 where a cricketer hit a ball 100 yards over a 17 foot high fence and hit the claimant who was standing in the road. A ball had only ever been struck outside the ground 6 times over a 30 year history of the club and nets had been put up around the ground. The House of Lords held the facts and decided that there was no substantial risk of injury. Risks of serious injury is another thing which should be taken into account, where there is a substantially higher risk of serious injury, more caution is required, for example, in a working environment,...
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