A lorry belonging to the defendants failed to take a bend crashing into the plaintiffs’ shop causing extensive damage. Mr Terence Tarleton, the driver later died, as did Mrs Mansfield. Mr Tarleton did not know he had malignant insulinoma, resulting in a hypoglycaemic state in which the brain was starved of glucose and so was unable to function properly. That caused the accident.
Held: There is no reason in principle why a driver should not escape liability where the disabling event is not sudden, but gradual, provided that the driver is unaware of it.
Lord Justice Leggatt Lord Justice Aldous Sir Patrick Russell
 EWCA Civ 1352,  1 WLR 1263
England and Wales
Doubted – Roberts v Ramsbottom 1980
A motorist was involved in an accident when unknowingly he was suffering from a stroke and was unaware of his unfitness to drive. The court considered several criminal cases about automatism before holding: ‘I am satisfied that in a civil case a . .
Distinguished – Regina v Spurge CCA 1961
The driver claimed automatism as his defence.
Held: The defendant ‘continued to drive when he was unfit to do so, and when he should have been aware of his unfitness.’ . .
Not followed – Attorney-General’s Reference (No 2 of 1992) CACD 21-Jun-1993
The defendant lorry driver collided with cars parked on the hard shoulder of the motorway, killing two people. He pleaded in defence a non-insane automatism induced by the experience of ‘repetitive visual stimulus experienced on long journeys on . .
Cited – Nettleship v Weston CA 30-Jun-1971
The plaintiff gave a friend’s wife driving lessons. An experienced driver himself, he checked her insurance first. The learner crashed into a lamp-post, and he was injured. She was convicted of careless driving, and he sought damages. The judge held . .
Cited – Attorney-General of Canada v Connolly 1990
(Canada) A policeman was injured when a driver drove his car off the policeman’s arm was pinned in the window. The driver was held not liable in negligence, since by reason of severe mental disorder he was not capable of foreseeing the harm that . .
Cited – Snelling v Whitehead HL 1975
‘The case is one which is severely distressing to all who have been concerned with it and one which should attract automatic compensation regardless of any question of fault. But no such system has yet been introduced in this country and the courts, . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Personal Injury, Negligence, Road Traffic
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.141748