CHAPMAN V. HEARSE (1961) 106 CLR 112
High Court of Australia – 8 August 1961
On a dark and wet night Chapman drove his motor vehicle into the back of Emery’s car. Chapman was left lying on the road after the accident. Dr Cherry came upon the scene and left his motor vehicle and began to assist Chapman. While Cherry was treating Chapman a motor vehicle driven by Hearse hit Cherry and killed him.
Cherry’s estate sued Hearse. Hearse denied liability and also claimed that Cherry was liable for contributory negligence.
Hearse also joined Chapman as a third party on the grounds that he had contributed to the accident.
The Court found that Hearse had been negligent but that Chapman had also been negligent and was therefore liable tocontribute one quarter of the damages payable by Hearse to Cherry’s estate. Both Hearse and Chapman appealed.
Had Cherry been guilty of contributory negligence?
Did Chapman owe a duty of care to Cherry to avoid placing Cherry (as a rescuer) in a position where he might be endangered? Was Chapman’s negligence a cause of the death of Cherry?