Based on William’s case, we need to examine the law of tort and its’ terms. Tort is a civil wrong and it can be a negligent, nuisance or defamation not arising out of a contract. A tort can also be defined as “an act that injures someone in some way, and for which the injured person may sue the wrongdoer for damages” (http://www. lectlaw. com/def2/t032. htm). There are several torts that are practiced, such as the tort of passing off, the tort of vicarious liability, tort of conspiracy, tort of confidence, and the most important of all, the tort of negligence.
To briefly explained, the tort of passing off refers to enforcing unregistered trademark rights, while vicarious liability is liability in which a person can be held liable for the torts of another person. An example case of tort of vicarious liability would be Mattis v. Pollock (2003) when “a nightclub owner was held vicariously liable for the violent acts of an employed doorman” (http://www. lawteacher. net/tort-law/vicarious-liability. php). The tort of conspiracy is defined as two or more persons agree on a course of conduct to harm another or commit an illegal act.
A conspiracy may also “exist when the parties use legal means to accomplish an illegal result” (http://www. legalplayground. com/803-personal-injury-conspiracy-and-business-tort-cases. html), or achieve something through illegal means. The tort of confidence is a common law tort that focuses on breach of confidence and protects private information.
It can be defined as “essentially the misuse of illegitimately acquired information” (http://www. lawdit. co.uk/reading_room/room/view_article. asp? name=.. /articles/breach%20of%20confid. htm). The most important tort law of all, the tort of negligence, refers to a person doing something that he should not have done, as well as for not doing something he should have. Under the Singapore Law, “the tort of negligence requires more than mere lack of care”. (http://www. singaporelaw. sg/content/Negligence. html) A claimant who wishes to sue in negligence must show a) that the defendant owed him a
legal duty to take care; b) that there was a breach of this legal duty by the defendant; and c) that the breach caused him recoverable damage. Duty of care is a legal obligation imposed on an individual requiring that they adhere to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. According to (http://www. singaporelaw. sg/content/Negligence. html), whether or not a duty exists is influenced by a number of factors, such as the type of claimant, defendant, the nature of the damage caused, and the nature of the conduct.
In the case of Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932), the plaintiff (Donoghue) claimed she was ill due to the ginger beer that she had consumed which had the remains of a partially decomposed snail in it. She sued the manufacturer in tort as she did not buy the ginger beer. The court held that the manufacturer was liable in negligence as it is their duty of care to ensure that their products should be in good condition and clear of any contamination.
In William’s case, William has a duty of care as a driver on the road. He needs to ensure the safety of his passengers as well as any pedestrian or motorist on sight. The breach of that duty occurred once William took the phone out of his pocket, read and reply the message while driving the bus. It can be considered reasonably foreseeable that such an action can be both dangerous to the driver as well as to other motorists, as using the phone while driving will caused distraction to the driver.
This act of negligence by William caused a loss of live resulting from that breach mentioned earlier when his bus crashes into the car in front, forcing the car’s driver to be thrown forward, hits her head on the steering wheel and resulted in instant death. William should be held liable for the driver’s death. According to the Thin Skull Rule, the person in breach of the duty compensates for all damages he caused to the victim, even if the person is vulnerable or more fragile than the norm.
In this instance, William had made a breach of his duty and knocked down the driver, who had an unusually thin skull, resulting in her death. However, while William will be taken to court for negligence, he can raise his defense and reduced his damages in the form of contributory negligence. In the case of Nettleship v Weston (1971), Nettleship, the plaintiff, agreed to teach Mrs Weston, the defendant, how to drive a car. During the lesson, Mrs Weston lost control of the car and caused an accident which caused injury to the plaintiff. The plaintiff made the claims that the defendant caused his injuries.
However the Court of Appeal held that the plaintiff was also responsible for the accident as he was partially in control of the car and should only be able to recover half of his damages due to contributory negligence. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was well aware of her lack of skill and should not expect her to drive like an experienced motorist. Likewise in William’s case, he should reduce his damages as the driver’s instant death was party contributed by her own fault in which she failed to wear a seat belt while driving on the road.