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Donnelly v Joyce

[1974] QB 454; [1973] 3 WLR 514; [1973] 3 All ER 475;

[1973] 2 Lloyd's Rep 130; (1973) 117 SJ 488

NEGLIGENCE, DAMAGES, PERSONAL INJURIES, LOSS OF EARNINGS, LOSS OF WAGES, NURSING SERVICES, INFANT PLAINTIFF, CHILDREN, NURSING

Facts

As a child, the plaintiff sustained injuries to his right leg in a road traffic accident which was the defendant’s fault. Although the leg was not broken, there was considerable loss of skin and extensive skin grafting was necessary afterwards. The plaintiff was in hospital for three months and then he had to visit the hospital on a daily basis for a considerable time afterwards. The plaintiff had to wear a surgical boot and there was a possibility that there could be a considerable recurrent loss of skin throughout his life. As a result, he could not participate in games. His leg needed special bathing and dressing for a period of six months after the plaintiff’s discharge from hospital. To look after him, the plaintiff’s mother left her part-time job for which she was paid. £5.66 a week. The plaintiff was awarded £4000 as general damages and £147 as the mother’s loss of earnings for a period of six months. The defendant appealed the decision on the mother’s loss of earnings.

Issue

Given that the plaintiff’s mother has no direct cause of action against the defendant, is the plaintiff prevented from recovering his mother’s lost wages due to nursing him, which was necessary because of the defendant’s wrongdoing?

Held

The appeal was dismissed.

(1) An infant plaintiff may recover his mother’s loss of wages through nursing him due to the defendant’s wrongdoing, despite the fact that the plaintiff’s mother has no direct cause of action against the defendant.

(2) As the loss to the plaintiff included the existence of a need for nursing services provided by his mother, he is entitled to recover her loss of wages.


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