Legal Principles and Key Points
- In the case of Baker v Willoughby 1970 AC 467, D was held liable for loss of amenity and a lowered earing capacity after an amputation.
Facts of the Case
- The C was crossing a main road when struck by D’s car injuring his left leg.
- Both the C and D had full view of each other prior to the collision and neither took any action to avoid a collision.
- C sued D for damages from the collision but shortly before the hearing of his action, he was shot in the left leg during an armed robbery and the leg had to be immediately amputated.
- The judge found that C was 25% to blame and D the other 75% to blame. He held that the appropriate measure of damages for pain, discomfort, loss of amenities, loss of earning potential resulting from the injuries to the left leg was £1,600 and that he should not consider the amputation since the C’s actual and prospective loss flowing from the defendant’s negligent act had not been reduced by the subsequent loss of the leg. £1,200 was awarded in general damages.
- C appealed.
Issues in Baker v Willoughby 1970 AC 467
- The issues in this case were who was to blame for a collision where both parties were able to view the oncoming danger, and both decided not to act.
Held by House of Lords
- The appeal was allowed as there was no presumption that the parties were equally to blame for the accident and that in the circumstances there was no reason to disagree with the trial judge’s assessment of liability.
- The C’s disability could be regarded as having two caused and where, as here, the later injuries become a concurrent cause of the disabilities caused by the injury inflicted by the defendant they could not dimmish the number of damages payable by him.
- Accordingly, C was entitled to the original sum awarded of £1,200 by way of general damages.
- “A solution of the theoretical problem raised by cases such as the present can be found by taking a comprehensive and unitary view of the damage caused by the original accident. The original accident caused what may be called a “devaluation” of the plaintiff, in the sense that it produced a general reduction of his capacity to do things, to earn money and to enjoy life. For that devaluation the original tortfeasor should be and remain responsible to the full extent, unless before the assessment of the damages something has happened which either diminishes the devaluation (e.g., if there is an unexpected recovery from some of the adverse effects of the accident) or by shortening the expectation of life diminishes the period over which the plaintiff will suffer from the devaluation. If the supervening event is a tort, the second tortfeasor should be responsible for the additional devaluation caused by him.” (p. 496B-D)