CASE NAME :- HAMBROOK V STOKES (1925) 1kb 141: 1924 ER Repeal

DECIDED :- 1925

CITATION  :- (1925) 1kb 141

STATUTES :- Fatal Accident Act 1846

JURISDICTION :- England And Wales

CORUM :- Atkin, Bankes, Sargent LJJ


The defendant’s employee left a lorry at the top of a steep narrow street unattended, with the engine running and without having taken proper steps to secure it. The lorry ran violently down the hill. The plaintiff’s wife had been walking up the street with her children and had just parted with them a little below a point where the street made a bend when she saw the lorry rushing around the bend towards her. She became very frightened for the safety of her children, who by that time were out of sight and who she knew must have met the lorry in its travels. She was almost immediately afterwards told by bystanders that a child answering the description of one of hers had been injured. As a consequence of her fright and anxiety she suffered a nervous shock which eventually caused her death.


The husband was entitled to recover for the shock inflicted on her due to the reasonable fear of the immediate injury to her child from the runaway lorry. An express distinction was to be made between shock caused by what the mother saw with her own eyes and what she might have been told by bystanders, liability being excluded in the latter case. Persons outside the zone of physical danger were nevertheless owed a duty of care, because injury by shock was the only kind of injury that was foreseeable in such circumstances.
Bankes and Atkin LJJ (Sargant LJ dissenting) held that on the assumption that the deceased’s shock was caused by what she saw with her own eyes as distinct from what she was told by bystanders, her husband was entitled to recover notwithstanding that the shock was brought about by fear for her children’s safety and not by fear for her own.


  • People outside the zone of danger could recover for the mental injuries for fear of her child’s lives.
  • For recovery to succeed, the claimant must have seen the event first hand, not had the event communicated by others in any way.


The court make the liability towards the vehicle owner more specific due to breach of duty to take ordinary care towards the cases on highway. According to me all the facts of the event are necessary for decision of the case so we have to include all the details of the case so courts can give reliable judgement so people have faith on the courts. Courts do not have to decide on basis of case laws because every detail have its importance to hold person guilty and innocent.

Aishwarya Says:

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