Paul and Another v The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust: QBD 4 Jun 2020

Nervous shock – liability to third parties

The claimants witnessed the death of their father from a heart attack. They said that the defendant’s negligent treatment allowed the attack to take place. Difficult point of law about the circumstances in which a defendant who owes a duty of care to a primary victim may be liable to a secondary victim for a psychiatric injury suffered as a result of witnessing the death or injury of the primary victim. This type of injury is referred to in the authorities, inaptly, as ‘nervous shock’.
Held: The appeal against the strike out of the claim succeeded: ‘the principle in Taylor v A. Novo is no bar to recovery in this case if it is shown that Mr Paul’s collapse from a heart attack on 26 January 2014 was the first occasion on which the damage caused by the hospital’s negligent failure to diagnose and treat his heart condition became manifest.’

Chamberlain J
[2020] EWHC 1415 (QB)
England and Wales
CitedDonoghue (or M’Alister) v Stevenson HL 26-May-1932
Decomposed Snail in Ginger Beer Bottle – Liability
The appellant drank from a bottle of ginger beer manufactured by the defendant. She suffered injury when she found a half decomposed snail in the liquid. The glass was opaque and the snail could not be seen. The drink had been bought for her by a . .
CitedMcLoughlin v O’Brian HL 6-May-1982
The plaintiff was the mother of a child who died in an horrific accident, in which her husband and two other children were also injured. She was at home at the time of the accident, but went to the hospital immediately when she had heard what had . .
Appeal fromPaul v The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust QBD 4-Nov-2019
Claim for damages – witnesses to father’s death from heart attack.
Held: On the facts pleaded, Saffron’s and Mya’s claims were bound to fail. . .
CitedWhite, Frost and others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire and others HL 3-Dec-1998
No damages for Psychiatric Harm Alone
The House considered claims by police officers who had suffered psychiatric injury after tending the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy.
Held: The general rules restricting the recovery of damages for pure psychiatric harm applied to the . .
CitedAlcock and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police HL 28-Nov-1991
The plaintiffs sought damages for nervous shock. They had watched on television, as their relatives and friends, 96 in all, died at a football match, for the safety of which the defendants were responsible. The defendant police service had not . .
CitedPage v Smith HL 12-May-1995
The plaintiff was driving his car when the defendant turned into his path. Both cars suffered considerable damage but the drivers escaped physical injury. The Plaintiff had a pre-existing chronic fatigue syndrome, which manifested itself from time . .
CitedTaylor v Somerset Health Authority 1993
The plaintiff’s husband had suffered a heart attack at work and soon died at the defendant’s hospital. She went to the hospital within an hour and was told of his death by a doctor about 20 minutes after her arrival. She was shocked and distressed. . .
CitedShorter v Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust QBD 25-Mar-2015
The claimant saw her sister in undeniably distressing circumstances in hospital. It was suggested that the claimant’s professional background, as a radiographer, gave her an unusual degree of insight into her sister’s medical condition and that, as . .
CitedSion v Hampstead Health Authority CA 27-May-1994
An amendment to pleadings was allowed after the limitation period had expired in order to add a claim based on the same facts. The claim was brought by the father of a young man injured in a motor cycle accident. For fourteen days the father stayed . .
CitedNorth Glamorgan NHS Trust v Walters CA 6-Dec-2002
A new mother woke in hospital to see her baby (E) fitting. E suffered a major epileptic seizure leading to coma and irreparable brain damage. E was transferred to a London hospital and the following day the claimant was told by a consultant that E’s . .
CitedWhite v Lidl UK Ltd QBD 2005
The primary victim suffered an accident in the supermarket car park when a crash barrier which had been poorly maintained came through her windscreen. Her mental state deteriorated and, some months later, she committed suicide by hanging herself. . .
CitedW v Essex County Council and Another HL 17-Mar-2000
A foster child was placed with a family. The child had a history of abusing other children, but the foster parents, who had other children were not told. The foster child caused psychiatric damage to the carers.
Held: It was wrong to strike . .
CitedTaylor v A Novo (UK) Ltd CA 18-Mar-2013
The deceased had suffered a head injury at work from the defendant’s admitted negligence. She had been making a good recovery but then collapsed and died at home from pulmonary emboli, and thrombosis which were a consequence of the injury. The . .
CitedWild and Another v Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust QBD 3-Dec-2014
Claim for damages arising from alleged want of care of child in the womb, leading to a stillbirth. The claimant father suffered psychiatric damage after being told of the death of his wife’s baby in utero as a result of negligent treatment by . .
CitedLiverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v Ronayne CA 17-Jun-2015
The respondent was an experienced ambulance driver. His wife underwent emergency treatment at the appellant’s hospital. He had claimed as a secondary victim for the distress he suffered witnessing her suffering.
Held: The hospital’s appeal . .
CitedDryden and Others v Johnson Matthey Plc SC 21-Mar-2018
Sensitisation to salt can be personal injury
The claimants, had developed platinum salt sensitisation due to the defendant employer’s breach of health and safety regulations and common law duty, claimed a cause of action for personal injury. Platinum salt sensitisation is, in itself, an . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Negligence, Damages

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.651242