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Damage Caused to a Person: The Tort of Negligence Case Study

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Updated: Jun 29th, 2022

Introduction

Negligence is a failure to perform or improper performance of any duties that people have. It is a manifestation of the wrong or careless attitude to work and entails the infliction of significant damage or violation of the rights and legitimate interests of people.

Negligence is one of the common reasons for litigation, because many service providers may think that their inattention to details will not be noticed. Sometimes it is the cause of poor quality work and it can become a reason for confusion or resentment. However, there are more complicated situations in which it comes to property damage, illness, and even death. In these cases, the injured party can and must defend their rights in court until they receive appropriate compensation.

There are many legal methods tested by time that can help people find out which side is right. Adams (2018) assumes that “the law responds and develops as required by the society within which it operates” (p. 13). It means that the legal system is continuously changing to help people find the most equitable ways out of such situations. Researchers state that in many cases, the court does prove the guilt of people who acted recklessly and irresponsibly (Riches, Allen, & Keenan, 2014). However, even with adequate compensation, the damage to the injured party may be irreparable. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the proposed case and suggest possible solutions to the situation with benefits for the injured party.

Case Description

To better understand the case, it is necessary to describe what happened in detail. The situation that caused damage to a person takes place in a restaurant. Notably, the foodservice industry as a whole is prone to negligence, as consumers do not have a clear idea of ​​the quality of food. The main participants of the case are Simon, the manager of a TV Show, Kim, a lawyer, and the owner of the restaurant. Simon and Kim hold their meeting in a restaurant and communicate directly with its owner.

At this point, it is worth noting the high quality of the service, since the restaurant owner himself considered it necessary to communicate with customers. Encouraged by the level of respect, Kim consults with this person. She knows about her peanut allergy and informs the restaurant owner about it. He, in turn, assures her that there is no peanuts in the dish she ordered. Thus, he is aware of the problem and has the opportunity to inform his subordinates about it.

At this stage, the restaurant visitors have a positive impression of it; they are confident in the services it provides. During the entire dinner, they are satisfied; in particular, Kim does not think about her allergy. However, after leaving the restaurant, Kim feels a significant deterioration in health. It turns out that there were peanuts in the dish, so she suffers from anaphylactic shock. Kim is taken to the hospital and asked to stay there for a week. Medical care can be expensive, so it is already causing damage. Moreover, she misses a photoshoot for which she would be paid £50,000. Also, the situation undoubtedly harmed her health. Thus, she must go to court and demand compensation.

Although the situation may seem controversial, the law is on Kim’s side. The harm caused to her health was the result of the actions of the restaurant owner. There are examples of cases where the defendant’s guilt in such situations was disproved due to various compelling arguments and reasons. However, in the case of Kim, the responsibility lies with the owner, since he could have affected the process of cooking and serving. In this part of the paper, methods of proving his guilt are examined, as well as various possible outcomes of the situation, depending on Kim’s actions.

First of all, it is necessary to find out whether the current situation falls under the law of negligence. It is crucial to understand whether the defendant (the owner of the restaurant) was warned of the possible danger. Since Kim informed him of her allergy, this can be stated as a fact. It is also worth noting the existing trusting and friendly relations between the parties: the defendant himself undertook to work with these clients. In addition, since he is responsible for their service, it is fair to assume that he should check the preparation of dishes.

Even if he did not prepare them himself, he could have warned his employees against the presence of peanuts several times. However, MacIntyre (2013) states that “the mere fact that harm is foreseeable is not enough to give rise to a duty of care” (p. 364). Thus, it is necessary to consider other factors that could help Kim.

Secondly, it is essential to note the fact that the defendant violated his duty. Because Kim is aware of her illness, she knows its causes and consequences. The diagnosis is also confirmed by doctors in the hospital where she had to go. Therefore, the claimant can establish that the damage was caused precisely by the presence of peanuts in the dish. This damage should be considered extremely serious since in some situations, anaphylactic shock can be fatal. Furthermore, high costs of treatment and hospital stay are required to eliminate the damage. All these consequences could have been avoided, and one of the duties of the restaurant owner is to take care of customers and monitor their well-being.

To accurately establish the guilt of the owner of the restaurant, it is possible to use various standard methods of legal practice; one of them is the “but for” test (MacIntyre, 2013). In this situation, it can be formulated like this: “but for the restaurant owner being more attentive to the dish composition, would Kim go to the hospital?” Undoubtedly, the answer to this question is no, which proves the defendant’s guilt. Another test to determine the defendant’s guilt is the test for remoteness. As part of this test, it is necessary to establish whether the damage to the claimant was predictable. Since Kim reported her allergy to the restaurant owner and damage could have been foreseen, this test also indicates the defendant’s guilt.

Also, in this situation, it is appropriate to mention the “Eggshell Skull” rule. It implies that even if a person did not know how strong damage from their actions could be, they are still accountable for it. Even if the defendant did not know that he could cause such significant damage, he is still responsible for it. The owner of the restaurant was warned about the client’s allergy but probably could not have guessed how severe this disease was. Nevertheless, her anaphylactic shock was the result of his actions. Thus, without even knowing about the “fragility” of Kim, the defendant must fully compensate for the damage.

However, it is also worth mentioning Novus Actus Interventions, which may be decisive in this situation. Various factors could have intervened in the actions of the claimant and the defendant. For example, one of the restaurant’s chefs could have been inattentive and could have added peanuts to the dish before serving it to Kim. In this scenario, the restaurant owner could have no longer followed the process since the final cooking result was outside his area of ​​knowledge. In this case, Kim may still demand compensation; however, the responsibility for paying it will rest with the specific employee of the restaurant.

This makes the situation much more complicated and confusing, and more participants and witnesses will have to be brought to court. Despite this, Kim has the opportunity to achieve justice, even taking into account these conditions.

It is also worth noting what would have happened if Kim had not informed the restaurant owner about her allergy. In this case, the defendant would not have been aware of the problem, and he could not have taken action to prevent it. He would not be responsible for the claimant’s state of health, because he has no other sources of information about her diet. In this case, the claimant would not have had the right to demand financial or any other compensation. Thus, by reporting about her allergy, Kim cushioned herself against even more considerable damage.

Possible Actions of the Injured Party

This study found that the responsibility for harming Kim’s health rests with the owner of the restaurant. This means that she has the right to go to court and demand compensation. According to Adams (2018), “a sanction or penalty may be imposed in order to compensate the injured party or punish the wrongdoer” (p. 6). Since most of her expenses will be directed to the hospital stay and treatment, compensation should cover this amount. In addition, in this situation, Kim suffered significant moral damage. Even though she warned the restaurant owner about the disease, he ignored it. Also, she fell into an uncomfortable and even tragic situation during the meeting with her future employer. This may also affect the amount of compensation that she is entitled to demand.

In addition, during the week Kim had to be in the hospital, she was supposed to have a photo shoot. Kim’s potential earnings for this work could be £50,000. However, proving the defendant’s liability for these losses can be a much more difficult task. For example, there may be an opportunity to negotiate with the employer and postpone the photoshoot. Thus, if Kim wants to get compensation for this, she will have to resort to more persuasive arguments. For instance, she may present a signed contract that spells out the inability to postpone the date of the photoshoot. The outcome of the situation and the amount of compensation depends on the number of supporting facts and their significance.

Unfortunately, negligence is quite a common problem today, so there are many similar cases. Many of them resemble the described one, and they are also about an inattentive attitude to the preferences of customers. For example, one of them is also associated with the food industry. Two friends ordered a ‘ginger beer float,’ a dish consisting of ice cream and ginger beer, which must be poured there. While one of the friends was doing this, a strange substance resembling a decomposed snail fell into his dish. After consuming it, the claimant fell ill and complained to the beer manufacturer (MacIntyre, 2013).

As a result, the guilt was assigned to the manufacturer, since it was obliged to provide the consumer with products of appropriate quality. This situation is similar to that considered in this paper. In the case of Kim, the responsibility is also with the one who created the product and caused damage to the person.

It is also necessary to consider an example of the violation of a duty of care, which refers to the executor or manufacturer. Employers do not take their employees’ problems seriously enough, which can also cause serious harm. For instance, the following case occurred in 1951, when the applicant, fitter, due to some circumstances, could use only one eye (MacIntyre, 2013). His boss gave him the task to hammer and grind a vehicle, while not providing him with safety glasses or anything else that could protect him. The claimant suffered damage due to a piece of metal flying out of the vehicle, and his good eye also suffered. In this case, the employer is also responsible since he did not provide the subordinate with the necessary safety equipment.

Cases, when people suffer significant damage due to negligence, occur regularly and are a severe social problem. Unfortunately, not in each of the relationships between reasons and consequences are as clear as in the described cases. It is sometimes difficult to determine who is to blame for the situation. Moreover, many victims simply do not know about their right to go to court and receive compensation for the damage. However, judicial practice shows that a significant number of these situations are resolved in favor of the claimant. Therefore, people must always be aware of their rights and uphold them in every possible way.

Conclusion

In this paper, a typical case of negligence, which led to grave consequences, was considered. In this situation, the application of various legal techniques showed that the defendant is to blame. It was the restaurant owner who could have prevented the harm if he had been more careful and attentive. Unfortunately, his approach to work probably differs from this position, which cannot go unnoticed. However, the study of literature and similar cases has confirmed the fact that he was responsible for the incident. Thus, in the given situation, Kim suffered damage through no fault of her own and can count on compensation.

Unfortunately, similar cases often occur, and in many ways, the reason for this is a change in the structure and behavior of society. Many people in their workplace put greater emphasis on quantity rather than quality. Sometimes this does not lead to serious consequences, but in other situations, human life may depend on it. That is why every person must understand how their work can affect others. People can avoid such situations and ensure greater safety for themselves and others only through a responsible approach to this issue.

References

Adams, A. (2018). Law for business students (10th ed). Pearson.

MacIntyre, E. (2013). Business law (4th ed). Pearson Education.

Riches, S., Allen, V., & Keenan, D. J. (2014). Keenan and Riches’ business law (11th ed). Longman.

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IvyPanda. "Damage Caused to a Person: The Tort of Negligence." June 29, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-tort-of-negligence-kims-case/.

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