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Nervous Shock

                         Nervous Shock

The meaning of nervous shock varies from subject to subject but according to the law of tort, it means an injury which is inflicted upon a person intentionally or by negligent actions or omissions of the other. Often, it is applied to psychiatric disorders which are obviously ‘inaccurate’ and ‘bad’ in eyes of law as it disturbs the individual mentally and can cause serious problems.

For the act to be considered as ‘Nervous Shock’ in the law of torts, some requisites are there in order which has to be established before. They are:

  1. At a place or situation where the duty of care exists.

  2. There is a breach of that duty.

  3. The casual link between the breach of the duty and the nervous shock is established.

  4. Where the shock was not too remote a consequence.

Historically, there was no statutory law which defines the term nervous shock or the punishment or provisions regarding that. The offence of nervous shock has been emerged and evolved in Indian Law by the landmark cases which are followed as precedents. Earlier, it was very difficult to establish a link between the subject matter and the shock which the individual gets because of that but slowly as the cases came in front of the Court and the thorough study which is done by the various legal researchers and scholars, the actual law came which could really give the punishment who negligently or intentionally injures the person mentally.

One of the another reason that there is no claim for nervous shock in earlier times was people could easily take the advantage of the situation in the name of the nervous shock. It have the capacity to attract false and dubious claims under the garb of psychiatric illness as it would be very difficult to establish and outline the parameters which led to that. 

Also, the punishment differs according to the victim, that is primary victim and secondary victim. Primary victim is a victim who is directly involved in the accident and the individual suffers injuries as a result of the fault of the tortfeasor and the Secondary victim is a victim who suffers nervous shock without himself/herself being directly exposed to any physical danger in the accident to the primary victim. In the case of secondary victim, the injury has to be established which is reasonably foreseeable but also has to pass the three litmus tests which are as follows:

  1. Proximity of the relationship with the immediate victim. For example: the case should not be like that a bypasser is going and had an accident due to which the person suffered nervous shock. If such thing happens, there should be no offence because nothing is done intentionally or negligently.

  2. Proximity in time and space to the events causing the psychiatric illness. The case should be as such that there is a close relationship between the events which causes psychiatric illness.

  3. The means by which psychiatric illness is caused.

Therefore, whatever the case maybe, the person inflicting injury mentally also should be charged because at the end of the day injury is injury be it physical or mental. It gives immense pain.


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