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Street on Torts

Street on Torts (16th edn)

Christian Witting
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date: 12 June 2024

p. 623. Duty of care II: bodily injury and psychiatric illnesslocked

p. 623. Duty of care II: bodily injury and psychiatric illnesslocked

  • Christian WittingChristian WittingProfessor of Law, National University of Singapore, Barrister and Solicitor, High Court of Australia and Supreme Court of Victoria


This chapter discusses the duties of care in negligence that must be pleaded where the claimant has suffered some kind of personal injury—principally cases of bodily injury and psychiatric illness. The law imposes a wide duty with respect to persons who are physically proximate and vulnerable to injury. The law imposes a wide duty of care also upon persons who imperil others’ physical safety and cause them, as persons in the ‘zone of danger’, to suffer psychiatric illness. By contrast, the law has imposed certain ‘control mechanisms’ on the duty of care as it applies to secondary victims (who were outside the zone of danger but have suffered psychiatric injury). These mechanisms involve stringent types of proximity (as to relationships, presence, and sensory experience) in addition to the requirement of foreseeability to persons of the type of psychiatric illness.

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