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Examination Timing: 00H01M07S

Sarah, a pregnant woman, heard the noise of an accident while alighting from a bus. She had seen the victim passing on his bicycle earlier and later saw blood on the road but did not witness the collision nor see the victim’s body. The resulting shock induced premature labour, which resulted in a miscarriage. Would Sarah be likely to succeed in a claim for damages due to nervous shock?

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Sarah would be unlikely to succeed in a claim for damages because there was insufficient proximity between her and the accident scene. The injury was not reasonably foreseeable. In Bourhill v Young [1943], it was held that a person can only claim for nervous shock if they were spatially and temporally close to the accident or its immediate aftermath and if it was foreseeable that they would suffer such shock. Sarah did not witness the accident or see the victim, so her claim lacks the necessary proximity and foreseeability to succeed. 


Key Point: The Bourhill v Young case sets the standard for claims of nervous shock, requiring both spatial and temporal proximity to the accident and foreseeability of harm. This case demonstrates the limitations on recovery for psychiatric injuries, ensuring that claims are only successful where the claimant's position and relationship to the event are sufficiently close.

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