Foreseeability of Injury

by Philip Wild on April 10, 2013

It is established law that injury caused to one party which was the reasonably foreseeable consequence of another’s negligence gives cause for compensation. One of the key requirements that needs to be met is something called proximity, and the Court of Appeal has just defined it more tightly. Simon Robeson of the Litigation Dept. in Kidd Rapinet’s London office comments: “Proximity means that to have a case the injured party needs to be close, in time or space to the event causing the injury. For instance, if someone is mown down by a reckless driver, not only would the pedestrian have a right to compensation, but also, for instance, a bystander, who witnessed the accident and suffered nervous injury. They would be what’s called a secondary victim.”

In the case just decided, a woman, Crystal Taylor claimed she suffered psychiatric illness (post traumatic stress disorder) after witnessing the sudden collapse and death of her mother 3 weeks after she suffered injury at work due to the admitted negligence of her employer, A Novo (UK) Ltd. The issue was this: was the separation in time between the event causing the injury to the mother and the psychiatric injury to the daughter sufficiently separate, or could it be held that the injury to the daughter was “proximate”? The Appeal Court held that it was too remote. Simon Robeson comments: “A telling point was made by one of the judges, saying if they held that the proximity test had been passed, then in theory, similar actions for psychological injury could begin even if the death of the mother (or whoever) happened years after the original event. This was clearly seen by the Court as a step too far.”

If you feel you would like to know more, call Simon Robeson at Kidd Rapinet on 020 7265 5486 for further information.