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Jones v Boyce

[1816] 171 ER 540; (1816) 1 Starkie 493; 18 RR 812

NEGLIGENCE, CARRIAGE OF PASSANGERS, DUTY TO PROVIDE SAFE VEHICLE, ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT, CHOOSING ALTERNATIVE DANGER, GENERAL PRINCIPLES TO THE LAW OF NEGLIGENCE

Facts

The defendant was a proprietor of a coach. Soon after the coach had set off from an inn and while the it was on a descent, one of the coupling reins, which was defective, broke. The coachman drew the coach on one side of the road in order to stop it, where it crashed into two piles, broke one of them and eventually was stopped by a post without being overturned. The plaintiff was sitting on the back part of the coach. He jumped off it and as a result, he broke his leg. One of the witnesses said he could not tell whether the plaintiff was jerked off or jumped off the coach, but that he would have jumped had he been in the plaintiff’s place to avoid the danger. The evidence was showing though that it was not necessary for the plaintiff to jump.

Issue

(1) Is the proprietor of the coach guilty of any default in omitting to provide safe and proper means of conveyance?

(2) If so, is his default conductive to the injury that the plaintiff sustained?

Held

The decision was in favour of the plaintiff.

(1) If through a default of a coach proprietor, in neglecting to provide a proper means of conveyance, a passenger is placed in such a perilous situation as to render it prudent for him to jump off the coach, whereby his leg is broken, the proprietor will be liable in damages, despite the fact that the coach is not overturned.

(2) It is up for the jury to decide whether the plaintiff’s action was unreasonable or reasonable and one that a prudent mind would have adopted.

(3) The plaintiff’s act is reasonable so long as he was placed in such a situation as to have to choose between the dangerous leap or remaining at certain peril.


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