Personal injury: Cause and effect
Mr Corr was a happily married man with two children who worked for the defendant, IBC Vehicles, as an engineer. In 1996 he suffered a near-death accident at work when a machine he was mending unexpectedly turned on, thrusting a sharp metal panel towards him, severing his ear. Mr Corr underwent prolonged and painful ear surgery. He suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. Almost six years after the accident, Mr Corr took an overdose of pills and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for electro-convulsive therapy. This appeared to alleviate the symptoms but he then regressed and, in May 2002, he threw himself off a multi-storey car park and died. The claimant, Mr Corr's widow, sued under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 for Mr Corr's damages and under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 for loss of dependency. The defendant admitted liability for the estate's claim but denied liability under the 1976 Act asserting that Mr Corr's suicide (while he was sane under the M'Naghten Rules) was not the same 'kind of harm' as depression, i.e. it fell outside the scope of the duty of care owed to him and/or was not an act which was reasonably foreseeable.
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