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Home      Hotson v East Berkshire Area Health Authority
 
 
Hotson v East Berkshire Area Health Authority [1987] AC 750 House of Lords

The claimant as a school boy fell out of a tree from a height of 12 foot. He suffered a fracture to his hip and was taken to hospital. The hospital failed to diagnose his fracture and sent him home. He was in severe pain so he was taken back to hospital 5 days later where an X ray revealed his injury. He was treated and suffered an avascular necrosis which resulted in him having a permanent disability and a virtual certainty that he would develop osteoarthritis. According to medical evidence, had he been correctly diagnosed initially there was a 75% chance that he would have still developed this condition, but there was a 25% chance that he would have made a full recovery. The trial judge awarded damages of £11,500 based of 25% of £46,000 which was what would have been awarded if the claimant had shown that the defendant's conduct had caused the avascular necrosis of the hip.

Held:

The claimant had failed to establish on the balance of probabilities that the defendant's breach of duty had caused the necrosis since there was a 75% chance that it was caused by the fall. Therefore the claimant was not entitled to receive anything in respect of the necrosis.
 
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