Bell v Great Northern Railway Co of Ireland: 1890

The plaintiff was a passenger in a railway carriage which ran backwards downhill in terrifying circumstances. Medical witnesses testified that she was suffering from fright and nervous shock, one of them describing it as ‘profound impression on the nervious system’ and stating that the shock from which she suffered would be a natural consequence of the fright. Another said he was unable to detect any physical damage, and put down her symptoms to nervous shock.
Held: She succeeded. The negligent management by the defendants of the carriage in which she was seated was admittedly the cause of the injury she sustained. Murphy J said: ‘It appears . . immaterial whether the injuries may be called nervous shock, brain disturbance, mental shock, or bodily injury.’ She was awarded damages for her ‘nervous shock,’ although she had suffered no physical damage in the accident.

Murphy J
(1890) 26 LR Ir 428

Damages, Ireland

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.464276