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Hinz v Berry [1970] 2 QB 40 Court of Appeal

Mr and Mrs Hinz went for a day out with their family in a Bedford Dormobile. They had four children of their own and fostered four other children. Mrs Hinz was also pregnant with her fifth child. They stopped in a lay-by to have a picnic. Mrs Hinz went across the road with one of the children to pick bluebells. Mr Hinz was in the dormobile making tea with the other children. A jaguar car driven by Mr Berry then came hurtling at speed. A tyre burst and the driver lost control and smashed into the dormobile. Mrs Hinz witnessed the horrible scene. Her husband died and the children were badly injured. As a consequence of this she became morbidly depressed.

Held:

She was entitled to recover as she had demonstrated a recognised psychiatric condition as opposed to feelings of grief and sorrow
.

Lord Denning MR
"In English law no damages are awarded for grief or sorrow caused by a person's death. No damages are to be given for the worry about the children, or for the financial strain or stress, or the difficulties of adjusting to a new life. Damages are, however, recoverable for nervous shock, or, to put it in medical terms, for any recognisable psychiatric illness caused by the breach of duty by the defendant."
 
Back to lecture outline on negligently inflicted psychiatric harm in Negligence