Personal Injury - 1930- 1959

All matters relating to Personal Injury Law. See also Damages, and Torts General, Negligence, Professional Negligence, and Health and Safety Law. Damages for personal injury actions are normally included here.

These cases are extracted from a very large database. The entries on that database are now being published individually to the main website in a much improved form. As cases are published here, the entry here will be replaced by a link to the same case in that improved form on In addition the site includes very substantial numbers of cases after 2000. Please take the time to look.  

This page lists 55 cases, and was prepared on 19 May 2014. These case are being transferred one by one to the main site which presents them better, with links to full text where we have it, and much improved cross referencing.
Wilchick -v- Marks and Silverstone; KBD 1934
Grant -v- Australian Knitting Mills [1935] All ER Rep 209; [1936] AC 85; 105 LJPC 6; 154 LT 185
Lord Wright
Personal Injury, Negligence

The Board considered how a duty of care may be established: "All that is necessary as a step to establish a tort of actionable negligence is define the precise relationship from which the duty to take care is deduced. It is, however, essential in English law that the duty should be established; the mere fact that a man is injured by another’s act gives in itself no cause of action. If the act is deliberate, the party injured will have no claim in law even though the injury was intentional so long as the other party is merely exercising a legal right; if the act involves lack of due care, again no case of actionable negligence will arise unless the duty to be careful exists.” and “the appellant is not required to lay his finger on the exact person in all the chain who was responsible, or specify what he did wrong. Negligence is found as a matter of inference from the existence of the defect taken in connection with all the known circumstances”
Lord Wright: "Mr. Greene further contended on behalf of the manufacturers that if the decision in Donoghue's case [1932] AC 562, 591, were extended even a hair's-breadth, no line could be drawn, and a manufacturer's liability would be extended indefinitely. He put as an illustration the case of a foundry which had cast a rudder to be fitted on a liner: he assumed that it was fitted and the steamer sailed the seas for some years: but the rudder had a latent defect due to faulty and negligent casting, and one day it broke, with the result that the vessel was wrecked, with great loss of life and damage to property. He argued that if Donoghue's case were extended beyond its precise facts, the maker of the rudder would be held liable for damages of an indefinite amount, after an indefinite time, and to claimants indeterminate until the event. But it is clear that such a state of things would involve many considerations far removed from the simple facts of this case. So many contingencies must have intervened between the lack of care on the part of the makers and the casualty that it may be that the law would apply, as it does in proper cases, not always according to strict logic, the rule that cause and effect must not be too remote: in any case the element of directness would obviously be lacking. Lord Atkin deals with that sort of question in Donoghue's case where he refers to Earl v. Lubbock [1905] 1 K.B. 253, 259: he quotes the commonsense opinion of Mathew L.J.: 'It is impossible to accept such a wide proposition, and, indeed, it is difficult to see how, if it were the law, trade could be carried on.'
In their Lordships' opinion it is enough for them to decide this case on its actual facts."
Nicholson -v- The Southern Railway Company; 1935
Hillen and Pettigrew -v- ICI (Alkali) Ltd; HL 1936
Shiffman -v- Order of St John of Jerusalem (Grand Priory in the British Realm of the Venerable Order of the Hospital); 1936
Rose -v- Ford; HL 1937
Philips -v- Whitely (William) Ltd; 1938
Wilsons and Clyde Coal Co Ltd -v- English; HL 1938
Owens -v- Liverpool Corporation; CA 1938
Hale -v- Jennings Bros; 1938
Dann -v- Hamilton [1939] 1 KB 509

Personal Injury, Negligence Casemap
1 Citers
The maxim volenti non fit injuria, which originates from Roman law, is a notorious source of confusion.
Caswell -v- Powell Duffryn Associated Collieries; HL 1940
Smith -v- Cammell Laird & Co Ltd [1940] AC 242
Lord Atkin
Personal Injury
1 Citers
The regulation imposed an absolute obligation from the words "all staging . . shall be maintained." Lord Atkin said: "It is precisely in the absolute obligation imposed by statute to perform or forbear from performing a specified activity that a breach of statutory duty differs from the obligation imposed by common law, which is to take reasonable care to avoid injuring another."
Shipbuilding Regulations 1931 31
Camkin -v- Bishop; CA 1941
Bourhill -v- Young's Executor; HL 05-Aug-1942
Muir -v- Glasgow Corporation [1943] UKHL 2; [1943] AC 448; [1943] 2 All ER 44; 1943 SC (HL) 3
16 Apr 1943
Scotland, Personal Injury, Negligence
Link[s] omitted
London and North Eastern Railway Company -v- Berriman; HL 1946
Vyner -v- Waldenberg Brothers Ltd [1946] KB 50
Scott LJ
Health and Safety, Personal Injury Casemap
1 Citers
Scott LJ said: 'If there is a definite breach of a safety provision imposed on the occupier of a factory, and a workman is injured in a way which could result from the breach, the onus of proof shifts on to the employer to show that the breach was not the cause. We think that that principle lies at the very basis of statutory rules of absolute duty.'
Mersey Docks and Harbour Board -v- Coggins & Griffith (Liverpool) Ltd; HL 1946
Heard -v- Brymbo Steel Company Ltd [1947] KB 69
Morton, Tucker and Somervell LJJ
Utilities, Personal Injury Casemap

The plaintiff was injured in an explosion at work arising from a short-circuit occurring because of breaches by the second defendants, the North Wales Power Co Ltd, of the 1937 regulations, 24 and 25. The 1899 Act applied, and it provided that undertakers would be liable for all accidents, damages and injuries happening through their act or "default". The word "default" was also found in regulation 39. Held: The power company was liable. Somervell LJ explained that the default, a breach of regulations 24 and 25, and which might cause damage or injury under regulation 39, was a default for which undertakers were answerable under the 1899 Act. They were liable not because the breaches of regulations 24 and 25 of the 1937 Regulations per se gave rise to civil liability, but because the default which constituted the breach of those regulations was also a "default" which made the company liable to pay damages under para 77 of the schedule to the 1899 Act.
Electricity Supply Regulations 1937 24 25 39 - Electric Lighting (Clauses) Act 1899
Redpath -v- Belfast and County Down Railway [1947] NI 167
Andrews CJ
Northern Ireland, Personal Injury, Damages Casemap
1 Citers
The plaintiff sought damages for personal injury. The defendant company sought to bring into account sums received by the plaintiff from a distress fund to which members of the public had contributed. Plaintiff's counsel were said to having submitted: "that it would be startling to the subscribers to that fund if they were to be told that their contributions were really made in ease and for the benefit of the negligent railway company. To this last submission I would only add that if the proposition contended for by the defendants is sound the inevitable consequence in the case of future disasters of a similar character would be that the springs of private charity would be found to be largely if not entirely dried up." Held: Gifts made by others to relieve the distress of the plaintiff were not to reduce the damages payable by the defendant.
Almeroth -v- WE Chivers & Son Ltd; CA 1948
Turner -v- Arding & Hobbs Ltd; CA 1949
Edwards -v- National Coal Board; CA 1949
Millar -v- Galashiels Gas Co Ltd; Galashiels Gas Company Ltd -v- O'Donnell [1949] AC 275; [1949] SC (HL) 31; [1949] UKHL 2; 47 LGR 213; 1949 SLT 223; 65 TLR 76; [1949] LJR 540; [1949] AC 275; [1949] 1 All ER 319
20 Jan 1949
Lord Morton of Henryton
Health and Safety, Scotland, Personal Injury Casemap

A hoist mechanism failed, the employee was injured, and he sought damages from his employer under the Act. Held. The section imposes an absolute obligation to maintain work equipment in an efficient state or in efficient working order. The duty imposed was an absolute and continuing obligation, so that proof of any failure in the mechanism of a hoist or lift established a breach of statutory duty, even though it was impossible to anticipate such failure before the event or to explain it afterwards, and even though all reasonable steps had been taken to provide a suitable hoist or lift and to maintain it properly.
Factories Act 1937 22(1)
Link[s] omitted
Rose -v- Colville's Ltd 1950 SLT (Notes) 72

Personal Injury, Scotland Casemap
1 Citers
Pritchard -v- Post Office; CA 1950
Shearman -v- Folland [1950] 2 KB 43; [1950] 1 All ER 976
Asquith LJ
Damages, Personal Injury

The injured plaintiff had lived before the accident in hotels to which she paid seven guineas a week for board and lodging. After the accident she spent just over a year in nursing homes at a cost of twelve guineas a week exclusive of medical expenses. The judge, in awarding damages, deducted the smaller figure from the larger, treating the difference as her loss. Held: The deduction was excessive, but the court accepted the principle that a deduction should be made for the cost of food and lodging which would have had to be incurred even if the plaintiff had not been injured. The court also considered the relevance of the plaintiff having insured himself against personal injury: "If the wrongdoer were entitled to set-off what the plaintiff was entitled to recoup or had recouped under his policy, he would, in effect, be depriving the plaintiff of all benefit from the premiums paid by the latter and appropriating that benefit to himself." The court gave as an example: "A millionaire, accustomed to live at a palatial hotel, where his weekly expenses far exceed the charges of the nursing-home to which, after being injured by the defendant's negligence, he is transplanted, would recover nothing by way of special damage. Could it really lie in the mouth of the wrongdoer in such a case to say: 'I am entitled to go scot-free; I have, by my negligent act, not merely inflicted no loss but conferred a net financial benefit on the plaintiff by saving him from the consequences of his habitual extravagance'?"
Dooley -v- Cammell Laird and Co Ltd; 1951
McCarthy -v- Coldair Ltd [1951] 2 TLR 1226
Denning LJ, Hodson LJ
Personal Injury, Health and Safety Casemap
1 Citers
Dorman Long & Co Ltd -v- Hillier [1951] 1 All ER 357

Lord Goddard CJ
Personal Injury, Health and Safety Casemap
1 Citers
A worker had to remove four corrugated iron sheets from a roof. He was injured and claimed under the 1937 Act. Held: A place can be a means of access at one time and a place of work at a different time but it cannot be both at the same time. A step on to one of the sheets while the worker was passing down another after its removal was a step not upon a means of access but upon a part of the place where the work was being done. Lord Goddard CJ said that it would be "too artificial to say that there were different branches of work according to which sheet he was removing at any particular moment."
Factories Act 1937 26(1)
Davies -v- de Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd [1951] 1 KB 50

Personal Injury, Health and Safety Casemap

Nicol -v- National Coal Board; SCS 1952
Edwards -v- Railway Executive; HL 1952
King -v- Phillips; CA 1952
Best -v- Samuel Fox & Co Ltd [1952] AC 716

Lord Morton of Henryton
Personal Injury, Negligence
1 Citers
The court considered liability for injury to secondary victims. Lord Morton of Henryton: "it has never been the law of England that an invitor, who has negligently but unintentionally injured an invitee, is liable to compensate other persons who have suffered, in one way or another, as a result of the injury to the invitee. If the injured man was engaged in a business, and the injury is a serious one, the business may have to close down and the employees be dismissed; a daughter of the injured man may have to give up work which she enjoys and stay at home to nurse a father who has been transformed into an irritable invalid as a result of the injury. Such examples could easily be multiplied. Yet the invitor is under no liability to compensate such persons, for he owes them no duty and may not even know of their existence."
Harris -v- Brights Asphalt Contractors Ltd [1953] 1 QB 617

Slade J
Personal Injury, Damages Casemap
1 Citers
The plaintiff was not prevented from recovering the costs of private medical treatment.
Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948 2(4)
Day -v- Harland and Wolff Ltd [1953] I WLR 906; [1953] 2 All ER 387; [1953] 97 Sol Jo 473

Personal Injury, Health and Safety
The plaintiff was injured repainting a ship in a dry dock. Held: The situation was one covered by the regulations. The scaffolding used to support the workers had to be of the standard appropriate to maintain the employees' safety.
Shipbuilding Regulations 1931
Latimer -v- AEC Limited; HL 25-Jun-1953
Adams -v- War Office [1955] 3 All ER 245
Armed Forces, Personal Injury Casemap
1 Citers
Crown Proceedings Act 1947 10(1)(a)(b)
British Transport Commission -v- Gourley [1956] AC 185; [1955] 3 All ER 796; [1956] 2 WLR 41; [1955] UKHL 4
Earl Jowitt, Lord Jowitt, Lord Reid
Damages, Personal Injury, Damages Casemap
1 Citers
It is a universal rule that the plaintiff cannot recover more than he has lost and that realities must be considered rather than technicalities. The damages to be awarded for personal injury including loss of earnings should reflect the fact that tax would have been payable on those earnings in a case where the damages would not be taxable in the hands of the recipient.
The plaintiff was awarded damages after being injured in a rail crash. In calculating damages for loss of earnings, the judge did not deduct from the plaintiff's gross lost earnings the sums he would have had to have paid for income tax etc. Held: The defendant's appeal succeeded. Income tax and other deductions are to be taken into account in assessing both past and future loss of earnings in claims for damages for personal injuries.
Earl Jowitt: "The broad general principle which should govern the assessment of damages in cases such as this is that the tribunal should award the injured party such a sum of money as will put him in the same position as he would have been in if he had not sustained the injuries (see per LORD BLACKBURN in Livingstone v. Rawyards Coal Co.)... The principle can... afford some guidance to the tribunal in assessing compensation for the financial loss resulting from an accident, and in such cases it has been referred to as 'the dominant rule of law' (see per Lord Wright in Liesbosch (Dredger) v. Steamship Edison (Owners), The Edison). There are, no doubt, instances to be found in the books of exceptional cases in which this dominant rule does not apply, as, for instance, in cases of insurance, or cases calling for exemplary or punitive damages, or in certain cases dealing with the loss of use of a chattel. But, as Lord Sumner said in Admiralty Comrs. v. Chekiang (Woners), The Chekiang: 'The measure of damages ought never to be governed by mere rules of practice, nor can such rules override the principles of the law on this subject'."
Lord Jowitt said that the award should be realistic so as properly to make god the plaintiff's loss: "...I agree with LORD SORN in thinking that to ignore the tax element at the present day would be to act in a manner which is out of touch with reality. Nor can I regard the tax element as so remote that it should be disregarded in assessing damages... I see no reason why in this case we should depart from the dominant rule, or why the respondent should not have his damages assessed on the basis of what he has really lost; and I consider that, in determining what he has really lost, the judge ought to have considered the tax liability of the respondent." Lord Jowitt did not accept that the tax element should be disregarded to avoid benefitting the wrongdoer: "My Lords, It is, I think, if I may say so with the utmost respect, fallacious to consider the problem as though a benefit were being conferred on a wrongdoer by allowing him to abate the damages for which he would otherwise be liable. The problem is rather for what damages is he liable; and, if we apply the dominant rule, we should answer, 'He is liable for such damages as, by reason of his wrongdoing, the plaintiff has sustained'."
Lord Reid: "In considering the importance of practical difficulties, I would weigh them against the importance of the element of tax liability, with tax at modern levels, in determining the real loss which the plaintiff has suffered."
[ Bailii ]
Prince -v- Carrier Engineering Co Ltd [1955] 1 Lloyd's Rep 401

Health and Safety, Personal Injury

Adler -v- Dickson; 'the Himalaya' [1955] 1 QB 158; [1954] 2 All ER 397; [1954] 3 WLR 696; 98 Sol Jo 787; [1954] 2 Lloyd's Rep 267
Personal Injury, Contract
1 Citers
The defendants were the master and boatswain of the P&O passenger liner Himalaya. The plaintiff was a passenger who was injured when an insecure gangway slipped and he fell 16ft to the wharf. The plaintiff had a contract with P&O which excluded liability for such an injury: 'passengers . . . . Are carried at passengers' entire risk' and 'The company will not responsible for and shall be exempt from all liability in respect of any injury whatsoever of or to the person of any passenger . . . Whether such injury shall occur on land, on shipboard or elsewhere . . . And whether the same shall arise from or be occasioned by the negligence of the company's servants . . . In the discharge of their duties, or while a passenger is embarking or disembarking, or whether by the negligence of other persons directly or indirectly in the service of the company, or otherwise by the act of God . . . Dangers of the seas . . . Or by accidents . . .or any acts, defaults, or negligence of the master, mariners . . . Company's agents or servants of any kind under any circumstances whatsoever.' The defendants sought to rely on that clause. The master had directed that the clause succeeded as a defence. Held: The defendants were liable. They owed the plaintiff a duty of care in tort. They should have seen that the gangway was properly secured. The defendants' contractual duty was to their employers but they also owed a duty of care in the law of tort to those who were liable to be affected by any carelessness on their part which was foreseeably capable of causing injury to such persons. It was their conduct which had given rise to the situation (the inadequately secured gangway) which was the situation which caused the plaintiff's injury. The contract was between the company and the passenger, and the company had not contracted as agents for their servants. The defendants were not able to take advantage of the clause.
Phipps -v- Rochester Corporation; 1955
Angus -v- National Coal Board; SCS 09-Feb-1955
Lee -v- Sheard; CA 1956
Morris -v- West Hartlepool Steam Navigation; HL 1956
Bonnington Castings Ltd -v- Wardlaw; HL 01-Mar-1956
Cavanagh -v- London Transport Executive; 23-Oct-1956
Morris -v- Cunard Steamship Co; CA 28-Nov-1956
McAuley -v- London Transport Executive; CA 1957
Richards -v- W F White and Co; 1957
Pigney -v- Pointers Transport Services Ltd; 1957
Sleafer -v- Lambeth Borough Council [1959] 3 All ER 378; [1960] 1 QB 43
Wilmer LJ
Landlord and Tenant, Personal Injury Casemap

The plaintiff held a weekly residential tenancy of the defendant local authority. The front door was defective and jammed. The tenancy agreement contained a covenant by the tenant to keep the flat in good and tenantable repair. When the tenant pulled at the door it came off causing him injury as he fell. He claimed damages for personal injuries. Held: The claim failed. There is no implied duty to repair a property on landlord, and no such implication could be based on the obligations on the part of the Lessee under a clause permitting the Lessor to view the property and to effect work necessary for upholding the building. Wilmer LJ observed: “I think there is much to be said for the view that Clause II of the Agreement, which requires a tenant to reside in the dwelling house, does by implication require the landlords to do such repairs as may make it possible for the tenant to carry out that obligation. At least it seems to me that that is a possible view.”
Ward -v- T E Hopkins & Son Ltd [1959] 3 All ER 225

Negligence, Personal Injury
It is for the court to decide whether a person counts as a rescuer with entitlement to damages for psychiatric injury after witnessing an accident.