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Chadwick v British Railways Board [1967] 1 WLR 912

This case arose from a horrific train crash in Lewisham in which 90 people were killed and many more were seriously injured. Mr Chadwick lived 200 yards from the scene of the crash and attended the scene to provide some assistance. He worked many hours through the night crawling beneath the wreckage bringing aid and comfort to the trapped victims. As a result of what he had witnesses he suffered acute anxiety neurosis and received treatment as an inpatient for 6 months.

Held:

His estate was entitled to recover. The defendant owed Mr Chadwick  a duty of care since it was reasonably foreseeable that somebody might try to rescue the passengers and suffer injury in the process.

Waller J quoted Cardozo J in Wagner v  International  Railway Company 232 NY Rep 176, 180 (1921):

“Danger invites rescue. The cry of distress is the summons to relief. The law does not ignore these reactions of the mind in tracing conduct to its consequences. It recognises them as normal. It places their effect within the range of the natural and probable. The wrong that imperils life is a wrong to the imperilled victim; it is a wrong also to his rescuer.”

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