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Humanising negligence: damaged bodies, biographical lives and the limits of law

Priaulx, Nicolette Michelle ORCID: 2012. Humanising negligence: damaged bodies, biographical lives and the limits of law. Adelaide Law Review 33 (1) , pp. 177-198.

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The overarching theme of this work is the extent to which the law of negligence reflects our human experience of personal harm and the extent to which it can, or should. Negligence does not offer universal coverage in responding to harm. Of interest here are those kinds of personal harms which have triggered extended legal around the question as to whether an actionable legal harm has been sustained. These cases, referred to as ‘damage hybrids’, have the look and flavour of a conventional personal injury but possess a strong psycho-social character rather than squarely fitting what negligence is said to demand in order to establish the existence of damage to persons, notably, physical bodily harm. What we see is a continued preference for interpreting damage and personal injury as narrowly meaning harms sustained physically and bodily, with continued suspicion surrounding psycho-social harms, despite these often looking every bit as ‘concrete’ and ‘serious’ at the point of commission, and just as corrosive of life in their consequences. It is this odd demarcation which is of particular interest. An analysis of the assumptions informing such deliberations can tell us much about the extent that law connects with our social experience of being human, about the defensibility of the lines drawn in establishing what counts as damage and injury, and ultimately, it can also tell us about the limits of the law. As the piece argues, while the lines drawn in negligence are problematic, cases which push the boundaries of damage now demand a different kind of analysis given that they also reveal the presence of other significant fault-lines running through the negligence system in its management of interpersonal harm and human tragedy.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Additional Information: See also Priaulx, N. M. 2012 Endgame: on negligence and reparation for harm. In Richardson, J. and Rackley E. eds. Feminist Perspectives on Tort Law. Abingdon, Routledge, pp. 36-54 at
Publisher: University of Adelaide
ISSN: 0065-1915
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 13:43

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