Chapter 6 Outline answers to essay questions

Breach of duty: the standard of care

Ted is on his second day working as driver for Ace Medical Supplies. Although he recently acquired an HGV licence, he has been employed to drive small vans only. A call comes into the depot that there has been a serious rail crash and a delivery of blood products is urgently required at the nearby hospital. Greg, the usual HGV driver is ill, and so Angie, the manager, asks Ted to do the delivery because she is anxious not to lose the contract to a competitor. Ted loses control of his lorry on a bend in the road and crashes into Maya, who is running across the road in the dark.

Advise Maya.

The emphasis in this answer will be upon the breach aspects of the scenario. Can M bring a negligence action against T for her injuries?

1. He owes her the duty of care which all drivers owe to other road users (based upon the neighbour principle of Donoghue).

2. Has he breached that duty? The standard of care owed is that of the reasonably competent HGV driver (Nettleship v Weston). Wilsher v Essex AHA can be extended beyond the medical professional situation to give the conclusion that, having got an HGV licence, T will be judged as a competent HGV driver, despite it being only his second day on the job.

Did T reach that standard? How would such a driver have behaved in the circumstances? You must speculate on the possible facts: speed, weather, road conditions. Res ipsa loquitur and its requirements should be considered.

3. Did his breach cause M’s loss? Apparently, yes. If T has been negligent, you must explain that A may be vicariously liable on his behalf, subject to resolving the question of whether he was acting within the course of employment in doing Greg’s job. Possible contributory negligence by M must be considered.