Introduction to Tort Law, Negligence

Law is a system of rules created by the government in order to regulate and protect the society. Law is highly important to protect the rights of every member of the society from being harmed by others or even by themselves. The first case under analysis is related to Phil, who is a freelance airline catering truck driver and is being prosecuted for carelessly knocking down Colin while waiting at a set of traffic lights on the perimeter road of Heathrow Airport. On turning left at the lights Phil knocked down Colin, who sustained a broken collar bone, a broken leg and serious head injuries. Hilary, Colin’s wife, who was supposed to meet Colin at the traffic lights, witnessed the accident and suffered a nervous shock as a result. The other case refers to Ralf, a health and safety officer, who was visiting one of XYZ plc construction sites when was hit by a digger which Alex moved in order to get it out of the way of his truck. As a result, Ralf sustained two fractured ribs. This assignment will have an analysis on both cases along with the claims that plaintiffs are able to bring and recommendations for the same.

The modern tort of negligence has begun with the case of Donghue v Stevenson (1932). Negligence refers to conduct that falls below the standards established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonable person acting under similar circumstances.

Colin v Phil (2015)

The parties in this case are Colin, who is the plaintiff, and Phil, who is the defendant. This case between Colin and Phil is a Tort of Negligence issue, under the civil law, as there is a breach of duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, resulting in damages to the plaintiff. Tort is a wrongdoing that results in injury to another person or damage to property.

Cyclists, as legitimate road users, must follow all highway laws, and as they are especially vulnerable, should take extra care while at the highways. Trucks make wide turns and Colin should have been more cautious and waited behind the truck until Phil has completed the manoeuvre as the rear wheels come very close to the pavement while turning. At the time of the accident, Colin was wearing head phones, listening to an earlier “Legislative Frameworks” lecture, which is not considered illegal, however, it is unsafe as it reduces the individual’s concentration drastically. The rule 73 of the UK Highway Code states that “cyclists should pay particular attention to long vehicles which need more room than usual to manoeuvre at corners. Truck drivers may not see the cyclists. They may have to move over to the right before turning left. Cyclists should wait until the trucks have completed the manoeuvre as the rear wheels come very close to the kerb while turning. The space between the long vehicles and the kerb should not be a temptation to cyclists”. Probably, if Colin was not wearing head phones, could have avoided this accident. Phil owed a duty of care towards Colin, therefore, the defendant is in breach of duty when fails to see Colin before turning left. Breach of duty occurs where a defendant falls below the standard of a reasonable person, in other words, he acted carelessly.


Colin should be able to bring a claim against Phil due to his negligence driving – see Clenshaw V Tanner (2002). In order for Colin’s claim of tortuous liability to be succeed, primarily, certain fundamental factors need to be proved: i) the existence of a duty of care owed Phil to Colin; ii) Phil’s duty has been breached or broken; iii) the breach of duty resulted in Colin’s damage or injury. However, based upon Garatt v Saxby (2004), Phil may be able to reduce his damages if he proves that Colin’s negligence cycling has contributed to the accident by wearing head phones while cycling and standing on the nearside of his truck while waiting at the traffic lights – see Froom v Butcher 1976.

Hilary v Phil (2015)

In English law, claims for nervous shock are related to psychiatric injury or illness as a result of seeing or hearing an event caused by a negligent breach of duty. The leading case of Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire (1992), defines the primary and secondary victims and the requirements to be met by the latter. The secondary victim has to meet to be eligible to bring a claim, which is in addition to be owed a duty of care by the defendant. A claim for nervous shock is likely to be arise when an individual witnesses an accident in which a relative is injured. In order to succeed in a claim for psychiatric harm against Phil, Hilary will have to prove that she has a close tie and affection towards Colin, witnessed the accident with her own senses and proximity to the event and that her psychiatric illness was caused by it. Hilary witnessed her own husband Colin being severely injured when he collided with Phil’s truck at the lights, where was supposed to meet him. Therefore, based upon Kelly v Hennessy (1995), Hilary would be able to bring a claim against Phil as she suffered a recognisable psychiatric illness caused by the defendant’s act.

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The parties in this case are Ralf, who is the plaintiff, Alex and XYZ plc, who are the defendants. This case between Ralf, Alex and XYZ plc is also a Tort of Negligence issue, under the civil law, as there is a breach of duty of care owed by the defendants towards the plaintiff, resulting in damages to the plaintiff.

Ralf v Alex (2015)

Every employees who work in construction sites have to be aware how dangerous their jobs may be in their workplaces. It is extremely important to make sure that every worker takes the all the precautions and wear safety equipment and follow all the safety rules while on site. Also, the employers and main contractors on duty have the obligation to provide a safe workplace and system of work. According to, 2 million people are currently employed in the construction industry, which represents only 5% of the employees in Britain, however, 22% of fatal accidents are related to this industry. Ralf sustained two fractured ribs as a result of being carelessly hit by a digger, which Alex was moving in order to get it out of the way of his truck. Alex, as a responsible construction employee, should be aware of the safety rules within construction sites and his prohibition of driving any vehicle on site, except his truck. Also, it is important to highlight that Alex was returning late from his lunch break at the time of the accident. Therefore, Ralph should be able to bring a claim against Alex due to his breach of duty, negligence driving and breach of contract, which led to causation, two broken ribs – see Donoghue v Stevenson 1932. Based upon Hadley v Baxendale (1854), breach of contract occurs when there is a failure to adhere to the terms of a valid contract.

Ralf v XYZ plc (2015)

As was already mentioned above, constructions sites are extremely dangerous environments, however, the employers or main contractors on site have the obligation to ensure the safety of any employees, contractors or visitors to the site in order to minimise any possible dangers. Ralf should be entitled to claim a compensation from XYZ plc to pay the medical treatments and cover the financial pressures from being unable to work, as the employers or main contractors on site have not done everything they could to stop him from being injured by Alex. Based upon Doughty v Turner Manufacturing Company(1964), this is an example of breach of duty of care as XYZ plc failed to provide a duty of care towards Ralph, resulting in damage on the safety officer. The supervisors on duty should be aware of what Alex was about to do and have stopped him. Duty of care is an obligation recognized by law requiring a person to conform to a certain standard of conduct for the protection of others.

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Finally, this assignment has provided an analysis of two cases. The first case is about Phil, a truck driver who is facing legal issues for carelessly knocking down Colin, a cyclist, at the perimeter road of Heathrow Airport, causing him serious injurious. As a result, Hilary (Colin’s wife who was supposed to meet her husband at the traffic lights), witnessed the accident and sustained a nervous shock as a result. The second case relates to Ralph, a health and safety officer, who was hit by Alex, a construction worker who is also facing legal issues for moving a digger in order to get it out of the way of his truck. As a result, Ralf has sustained two broken ribs. Along with the analysis, the assignment also provides a recommendation on both cases in order for the claims to succeed.

1520 Words


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