A commentary on Nervous Shock as a cause of action in Torts by - D.
Bluebook 21st ed.
D. Hughes Parry, Nervous Shock as a Cause of Action in Tort, 41 L. Q.
The article talks about the redressal for a wrong committed by an
individual which injures the nervous system of other individual. There
is no conclusive ground upon which such acts can be assumed as torts.
Scholars say that, an act causing loss or damage to nervous system
should be punished under tort law because nervous system is as much a
part of a person’s body as are his limbs or his reputation.
The reasons for this state of Nervous Shock laws:
It has been put forward that nervous shock is a comparatively recent
innovation in tort law. It came into the light when cause and action can
be well defined and distinguished thus, making it difficult to classify
an act causing nervous shock. Actions causing nervous shock can not be
easily testified because there exists no physical cause and effect
The detection of affection to the nervous system is
difficult for common beings, it requires specially trained individuals.
The third reason for non-classification of nervous shocks as a cause if
action in tort is their indefinite and subjective character and the
consequent difficulty in ascertaining their nature and their cause. It
is a peculiar fact that the number of cases of nervous shock in England
are way too less than in America.
Development of Nervous shock laws:
The judgment of Purcell v. Railroad Co.
, 48 Minn. 134 and Mack v.
South Bound Railroad Co., changed the way in which matters relating to
nervous shock were approached. The concept of rule of liability was
established in these cases along with some principles which are as
The plaintiff has to prove that:
- An act committed by the defendant:
- Consequent nervous shock suffered directly by the plaintiff; and
- Physical injury resulting from the nervous shock.
A component of harm of this nature, which in specific circumstances the
law grants to be considered in assessing the recoverable harm however
which it doesn't permit to be considered in deciding the essential
inquiry of liability, has been fittingly depicted " by Professor Roscoe
Pound as parasitic.
Spoken words leading to fright followed by terminal illness is
recognized as cause of action for nervous shock. The damage caused by
such spoken words should be contemplated or direct. Even if the
statement is untrue and it causes shock to the plaintiff then the
defendant must be held liable.
An act or omission or conduct which causes fright to the plaintiff:
This principle introduces in unmistakable form a doctrine of
identification or association. The act complained of must be one which
causes reasonable fear of immediate personal injury to oneself or one's
children or one's husband or wife.
Nervous Shock is a shock to nerve and brain structures of the body. It
is a term used to denote Psychiatric injury or illness, inflicted upon a
person by intentional or negligent actions or omissions of another. It
is most often applied to psychiatric disorders triggered by witnessing
an accident, for example an injury caused to one's parents or spouse.